Anxiety among Mt Kenya Azimio aspirants over second ‘axing’ in June

Raila Odinga in Nyeri

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga acknowledges greetings from wananchi outside St Peter’s ACK church in Nyeri town on May 1, 2022. The party's Mt Kenya aspirants were put on notice about a 'nomination' in June to drop unpopular candidates.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Anxiety has gripped Mt Kenya aspirants under the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party after they were put on notice about a further 'nomination' in June to drop unpopular candidates ahead of the General Election.

At a meeting with Azimio aspirants and nomination losers, coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga said the “culling” will be conducted by use of consensus and opinion polls to determine the most popular contestants.

"Two months to the election, we will carry out another culling of aspirants here in the mountain. We do not want a situation where we will field several candidates under our alliance...that will be tantamount to surrendering our win," Mr Odinga said at Thika Greens hotel.

"We have 26 parties under our wing ... it will be a terrible thought … that we can approach an election under such in-house competition and expect to win.

“I will talk to some of my friends who are contesting to drop their bids ... especially those vying as Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidates ... They are my children and we will meet and compromise."

This realisation has now rattled aspirants who had hoped to try their luck in the ballot on August 9 using other parties in the Azimio coalition.

Mt Kenya MCAs Caucus chairman Charles Mwangi, who lost in the Jubilee nominations for the Ichagaki ward through a secret opinion poll, said "this is a progression of malice that was at play during nominations".

He said Mr Odinga’s message was that the Jubilee Party wants to edge out all other in-house competitors within Azimio to retain monopoly in vying.

"They only want Jubilee contestants in 11 counties – Nakuru, Nyandarua, Nairobi, Kiambu, Murang'a, Kirinyaga, Embu, Nyeri, Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Laikipia counties,” he said.

“We are coming from a situation where our nomination fees did not matter and commitment to party and government was tossed out of the window. We lost tickets in the most belittling manner."

Mr Mwangi said the rifts from the nominations were yet to heal "and they are now announcing a further chopping of candidates".

Julius Kaberere, a Party of National Unity (PNU) aspirant for the Kandara parliamentary seat, immediately took the cue and announced he would give up his ticket and run as an independent candidate.

"The declaration by Mr Odinga echoes what President Kenyatta has been advocating. It appears that only Jubilee aspirants will be cleared to contest the August 9 General Election in Mt Kenya counties. To be forewarned is to be forearmed and that is why I have bolted out rather than wait to be axed at the crossing line," he said.

President Kenyatta has declared that he favours all Azimio fringe parties collapsing into Jubilee so that Mt Kenya can go for a clean sweep of all contestable seats, safe for the presidency.

Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi said "this might be a tall order given that the law does not fully favour us and the only bet is compromise arrangement”.

“But again as an alliance that has the singular agenda of sustaining President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy by ensuring Mr Odinga succeeds him. We might get goodwill that will afford some to withdraw from the race," he added.

He referred to a notice from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that ballot papers for the August 9 elections would be procured between June and July.

"The IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati has since communicated to us that he will engage all political parties between May 29 and June 7 where the commission will get a full list of aspirants so as to order ballot papers," he said.

Mr Ngugi said "it is before June 7 that we can hope to reduce in-house competition by coaxing some to drop their bids. This is purely voluntary". 

The IEBC has awarded the tender to supply and deliver ballot papers and a register of voters to Greek firm Inform PLykos SA Holdings.