Polls to be used to pick one Azimio aspirant per seat

Raila Odinga with Ndiritu Muriithi

ODM party leader Raila Odinga (right) confers with his presidential campaign board chairman and Laikipia County Governor Ndiritu Muriithi during a meeting at the Windsor Golf and Country Club on May 3.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation

Mr Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition is finalising on opinion polls to help pick one coalition aspirant for each of the elective seats across the country.

After the conclusion of nominations conducted by different affiliate parties, the successful contenders are secretly being monitored by the coalition before the results of the polls are used to decide who among them flies the coalition’s flag.

Though the nominations are over, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will only start receiving nomination papers, and therefore clear aspirants to become candidates to be placed on the ballot, from May 28 to June 10.

If this strategy to field one coalition candidate for each seat is seen through, parties will withdraw sponsorship for aspirants who fail the popularity test, which could trigger acrimony as they had parted with hefty nomination fees.

One strong aspirant

Mr Odinga’s presidential campaign board chairman Ndiritu Muriithi says the move is aims to ensure that the coalition does not give its opponents the leeway to clinch seats they would win if they fielded one strong aspirant.

Mr Muriithi, who is also the Laikipia Governor, yesterday told the Nation that they are doing several opinion polls across the country to give a clear picture of all the aspirants.

“It is not a blanket statement that we are going to do just one poll for the whole country. In various constituencies and counties, the process is already ongoing. It is not an instantaneous thing,” he said.

Mr Muriithi said opinion polls are being conducted in areas where consensus has failed to identify a single candidate to fly the coalition’s flag come August 9.

“This is our preferred position as a coalition and it involves consensus first and foremost and in some instances it is going to involve the opinion polls. Both processes are ongoing,” he said.

Early this month, while meeting Nyeri leaders in Nairobi, Mr Odinga explained that fielding a single candidate is the only way not to give any opportunity to their opponents to beat them in the forthcoming elections, adding that the primaries should not divide and distract them from the main goal.

“In areas where you have Narc Kenya, Wiper, ODM and such, we have agreed that they will go for campaigns for one month then we will do an opinion poll and see which of the candidates is stronger than the others,” said Mr Odinga when he met Nyeri leaders at a Nairobi hotel.

“The weaker ones will then be advised to step down so that we don’t share the votes and lose to our opponents. So that is how we want to do it,” he added.

Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, now Mr Odinga’s running mate, had also alluded to the opinion polls while asking her aspirants to campaign even harder, saying if they do not, they will be knocked out.

Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kion yesterday told the Nation that the process will be concluded after they are done with introducing Mr Odinga’s running mate in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya backyard. He said that before the final decision is made, there will be robust discussions with all the parties to avoid any fallout.

“Before any deadline comes, you must always ask yourself if there is anything else you want to do. Now we are done with the deputy, we are introducing her to the ground then we sit down and see what to do next.”

Toothless president

This comes as Mr Odinga continues to push for his six-piece narrative more so in his Nyanza stronghold, a move which has not been well-received by some members of Azimio affiliate parties and independent candidates.

“I do not want to be a powerless and toothless president without numbers, you must give me soldiers who will work with me in running the government,” said Mr Odinga on Wednesday.

Mr Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto are facing a major political headache in their strongholds after heavyweights who lost in the party primaries made a comeback as independent candidates.


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