Nandi Hills Member of Parliament Alfred Keter will defend his seat as an independent candidate after the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party nullified his victory in the Tuesday party primaries, citing malpractices.
Mr Keter, in an interview with Nation.Africa, dared the UDA party to a duel in the August General Election for the Nandi Hills seat, revealing that he will be resigning from UDA tomorrow.
A ruling delivered on Friday by UDA tribunal judges Collins Kiprono, Mary Mungai and Jadrian Kamotho Njenga stated that Mr Bernard Kitur, who had challenged the legislator’s win, had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Nandi Hills nominations which took place on Tuesday were marred with irregularities and illegalities, which negatively impacted the outcome of the entire exercise.
“A declaration is hereby issued that the decision of the returning officer declaring the first respondent- Mr Keter- as the presumptive nominee for the position of Member of Parliament, Nandi Hills Constituency, is null and void,” read the ruling.
But Mr Keter, responding to the verdict on Sunday for the first time since it was delivered, said the cancellation of his win was never a coincidence.
“There was nothing like a tribunal. It was just a rubber stamp to perpetuate an injustice and subvert the will of Nandi Hills constituents. But I am warning them of a humiliating defeat in the General Election because I will defend my seat as an independent candidate. My denial of the certificate was not a coincidence,” he said.
The fiery legislator, who has been at loggerheads with elected leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto, said all the evidence supplied to the tribunal was part of a wider scheme to deny him the nomination ticket because it was evident that Nandi Hills people would nominate him at the primaries.
“I neither caused any chaos nor forced anyone to give me the nomination certificate as it was purported in the tribunal,” he said.
“The party was deliberate from the word go to deny me the ticket because they started by delaying the delivery of voting materials. And when it was evident that I was poised to win, they stuffed over 5,000 ballots in favour of Mr Kitur to the ballot boxes. Mr Kitur was nowhere near my victory because, just like other competitors, he garnered just 2 000 votes,” he said.
Mr Keter, who garnered 10,273 votes against Mr Kitur’s 7,468 votes, said Mr Robert Chepkwony, with 2,513 votes, was his closest challenger. Other aspirants in the race Irene Chemutai got 388 votes, while George Tarus and Abraham Limo garnered 425 votes and 540 votes, respectively.
“I am resigning tomorrow (Monday) from the UDA party and will hit the ground campaigning to recapture my seat from puppets who want to deny Nandi Hills people democracy. I am buoyed by my development record, which speaks for itself and I am optimistic of retaining my seat on this account,” he stated.
Asked whether he will still support DP Ruto in his presidential quest, Mr Keter remained cagey.
“What I know is that my constituents are angry over what happened. I will neither say I still support him or not but time will tell,” he said.
Mr Keter said plans to deny him the ticket started years ago and it was part of a wider scheme to publicly humiliate him during DP Ruto’s visit in Nandi last year.
“The heckling I received was meant to paint me as a DP critic in front of my supporters, but I took it with grace because I knew the voters were with me. But they will have their way in the August General Election and I will have my say because I will be voted in overwhelmingly,” he said.
Mr Keter said his perceived hardline position against DP Ruto was the main reason that some individuals were hell bent to ensure they lock him out of the ballot.
He will now join a dozen of other aspirants who lost in the hotly contested UDA primaries to vie as independent candidates in the August 9 General Election, a scenario that may dent DP Ruto’s UDA party dominance in its perceived North rift turf.