Divisions within Uhuru, Raila teams rock Nairobi politics

President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta with ODM leader Raila Odinga (right) and Senate Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio during the New Year luncheon hosted for lawmakers at State House, Nairobi, on January 13, 2022. Divisions in Azimio la Umoja camp in Nairobi are threatening to derail aspirants’ chances of clinching top seats in the August 9 General Election.


 

Photo credit: PSCU

Divisions in President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja camp in Nairobi are threatening to derail aspirants’ chances of clinching top seats in the August 9 General Election.

The wrangling is happening as the Deputy President William Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza alliance is looking to capitalise on the split in Azimio to turn tables on their opponents.

The governorship, Senate and woman representative seats in Azimio are hotly contested, attracting several aspirants and with each insisting they will settle for nothing but the ballot.

It is these divisions that Kenya Kwanza is looking to exploit, especially in the battle for the top seats in the city. The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has joined forces with Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC and Moses Wetangula’s Ford Kenya to form Kenya Kwanza.

While Azimio faces a headache picking from among four formidable gubernatorial aspirants in Governor Ann Kananu, Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Richard Ngatia and businesswoman Agnes Kagure, Kenya Kwanza has no such problem as they only have Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru.

In the Senate race, Azimio again has two strong aspirants in ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna and nominated MP Maina Kamanda.

A similar headache is also in the woman rep duel, with four aspirants including incumbent Esther Passaris, former Kasarani MP Elizabeth Ongoro, nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka and Wangui Ng’ang’a throwing their hats in the ring.

Kenya Kwanza is eager to capitalise on this sibling rivalry and pull the rag from under Azimio’s legs, seeking to achieve from a split vote what Jubilee did against ODM in Lang’ata constituency in 2017.

Senator Sakaja said they are closely watching the happenings in the Azimio camp and they were in discussions with aspirants who feel taken for granted.

He said Kenya Kwanza is determined to win most seats in Nairobi and was looking to take advantage of the sibling rivalry in Azimio.

“When your opponent is making mistakes, you don’t interrupt them but let them sink deeper. We are talking to aspirants from the other team and people should brace for a big surprise,” Mr Sakaja said.

Unlike in Azimio, he said, Kenya Kwanza has an amicable process for selecting their flag-bearers.

“I am determined to be Nairobi governor and I am targeting 1.5 million votes. Last time I got 840,000 with no running mate but now I am looking to add 600,000 because of the running mate factor,” he said.

In 2017, a similar rivalry in Nasa saw ODM lose the Lang’ata parliamentary seat when an unheralded Nixon Korir, of Jubilee, pulled off a surprise, beating ODM’s Oscar Omoke by less than 2,000 votes.

This is after each of the five constituent Nasa parties fielded a candidate, splitting the coalition’s votes.

A similar scenario is slowly building up in the run-up to the August 9 elections, with two camps already emerging in Azimio.

One is coalescing around Mr Wanyonyi and the other around Mr Ngatia, with the former’s team comprising Mr Sifuna, former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, Ms Passaris and Ms Ng’ang’a.

Mr Ngatia’s camp includes Mr Kamanda, Makadara MP George Aladwa, and Ms Kwamboka.

Although Governor Kananu and Ms Kagure are not seen as favourites, they also command some following in the city and cannot just be wished away.

In the Senate race, Mr Sifuna must ward off Mr Kamanda while the woman representative’s duel pits Ms Passaris against former Kasarani MP Elizabeth Ongoro, Ms Kwamboka and Ms Ng’ang’a.

The sharp divisions in Azimio have escalated, with each camp throwing mud at the other. But Mr Sifuna said the friendly fire in Azimio will not work against them.

“The wrangling is healthy for democracy in the coalition. In any event, all friendly fire will cease once the coalition candidates are known and we shall all unite and campaign together.”


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