William Ruto
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Lawmakers face do-or-die fights for constituency posts in UDA elections

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President William Ruto (right), Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at the Bomas of Kenya during the UDA National Governing Council meeting on September 29, 2023.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Lawmakers allied to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) are gearing up for a bruising battle for constituency level positions in the party’s grassroots elections next Friday.

The constituency race is shaping up to be one of the most consequential contests in President William Ruto’s party as it will either hoist or shatter the dreams of MPs seeking county positions.

An MP has to win at the constituency level to qualify for a county post, according UDA National Elections Board (NEB) chairperson Anthony Mwaura.

This, even as Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa announced his interest to run against UDA acting Secretary-General Cleophas Malala for the influential position. 

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, who is embroiled in a supremacy contest with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, is also said to be eyeing the same position.

Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero is angling for one of the newly created assistant deputy party leader positions, his close associates have said, even though he didn’t disclose the post he was going for during a recent interview the Nation in which he announced his interest in one of the top national positions. 

Some MPs who are eyeing governorships have declared their interest in party positions at the county level to boost their chances in the 2027 elections.

Winning the highly contested seats is perceived as an endorsement for the party ticket. The contest is also crucial for those seeking national positions as those elected in the constituencies will form the National Delegate Congress (NDC).

“As an MP, you have to win at the constituency level to qualify to run for any party position in the county. MPs who are seeking county branch chairmanships have no option but to win,” UDA National Elections Board (NEB) Anthony Mwaura told the Nation.

In Nairobi, Embakasi North MP James Gakuya, who is eyeing the Nairobi county chairmanship, has to win at the constituency level before he can face off with Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja. Mr Gakuya is said to have the backing of Mr Gachagua.

In Narok County, Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo, who is gunning for the county chairmanship alongside Governor Patrick Ntutu, will have to win at his constituency before he can qualify to face the county boss.

MPs Ken Aramat (Narok East) and Johanna Ng’eno (Emurr Dikkr), who are battling for the county secretary-general position, will have to win at their respective constituency election first before proceeding for the county race.

It will be the same scenario for Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto, who has declared his interest in the UDA secretary-general position against Jackson Rotino and Mzalendo Plimo.

Mr Mwaura said only elected officials from the ward election conducted on May 18 in the five counties and nominated and elected members of the National Assembly are eligible to run.

The party has given those seeking to run until next Tuesday to make their application.

“The [NEB] hereby issues this notice to all elected ward officials in Nairobi, Narok, West Pokot, Homa Bay, and Busia regarding the forthcoming constituency election scheduled for Friday, 31st May 2024,” said Mr Mwaura.

He said 4,200 delegates, including elected and nominated MPs, from the five counties will participate in the elections.

A breakdown of the numbers shows that Nairobi has 1,700 delegates drawn from the 17 constituencies while Homa Bay has 800 from eight constituencies.

Busia has 700 delegates from seven constituencies, Narok has 600 delegates from six constituencies, and West Pokot 400 delegates from four constituencies.

The party has declared 20 positions at the constituency level, including chairperson and deputy chairperson, secretary and deputy secretary, treasurer, organising secretary, representative of youth, representative of women, representative of people with disabilities, representative of MSMEs [micro, small and medium-sized enterprises], representative of farmers, representative of religious groups, representative of professionals and seven members comprising at least three of the opposite gender.

The 20 officials from each constituency in a county plus governors, deputy governors, senators and woman reps will form the County Congress and elect 20 county officials from amongst themselves.

All county officials (20) and seven officials at the constituency level, including the chairperson, deputy chairperson, secretary, deputy secretary, treasurer, organizing secretary and a youth rep and all the elected and nominated leaders will constitute the National Delegates Congress which will elect national officials.

Other bigwigs battling for party positions include West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin, who is set to face off with Senator Julius Murgor for the county chairmanship.