What you need to know:
- On Wednesday, Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju cited President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s handshake for the decision by the ruling party not to field a candidate.
- . Another ODM hopeful, Mariam Sharlet Akinyi, who was at the Kwale introductory meeting, had also jumped ship to Jubilee, and has since indicated she will be seeking the seat as an independent.
Deputy President William Ruto has set up a clash with ODM leader Raila Odinga in the Msambweni parliamentary by-election after backing an aspirant to run as an independent candidate.
A day after the DP grudgingly agreed to his Jubilee Party’s decision not to field a candidate in the mini-poll to avoid competing with ODM, he met Mr Feisal Bader Abdallah in Nairobi on Thursday, together with Coast MPs allied to his camp, signalling a looming battle in the December 15 poll.
It could be a repeat of the Kibra showdown, where Dr Ruto campaigned for a Jubilee candidate, McDonald Mariga, against the ODM’s eventual winner, Mr Imran Okoth, who was backed by a faction in the ruling party allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
On Wednesday, Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju cited President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s handshake for the decision by the ruling party not to field a candidate. The seat fell vacant in March, following the death of ODM’s Suleiman Dori, who had fallen out of favour with the party.
Expressed his disappointment
DP Ruto had expressed his disappointment with the Jubilee Party decision. “I met the party secretary-general and chairman and they briefed me on the decision made and I am satisfied with what they have done even though I had different views,” Dr Ruto said on Wednesday.
“I had a different view on the party fielding a candidate in Msambweni, but because a decision has already been made and communicated, we all stand by that decision that has been communicated to the public.”
However, the DP’s tongue in cheek comment “of giving her his support, if it is sought”, referring to Ms Sharlet Akinyi’s candidature as an independent, gave the clearest indication that he would seek to give Mr Odinga a run for his money in the upcoming by-election.
Thursday’s meeting at his Karen office, which was attended by several Coast MPs, including Athman Shariff (Lamu East), Mohammed Ali (Nyali), Owen Baya (Kilifi North), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga) and Aisha Jumwa (Malindi) gave the clearest indication that he will be fronting a different candidate other than the handshake’s.
The meeting which was said to be an “introduction of sorts”, was a coup for Dr Ruto as he had bagged another ODM candidate.
Mr Bader, a nephew to the late Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori, was among the four candidates introduced to Mr Odinga two weeks ago when he held the party’s county delegates meeting in Kwale. Another ODM hopeful, Mariam Sharlet Akinyi, who was at the Kwale introductory meeting, had also jumped ship to Jubilee, and has since indicated she will be seeking the seat as an independent.
“As coastal leaders, we will be supporting Mr Bader as an independent candidate for the seat. We met the Deputy President to explain to him our decision and it is up to him to decide on whether or not he will support us,” Mr Ali told the Nation.
He added that they will put up a spirited campaign to lock out ODM from reclaiming the seat.
“We are going to use this by-election to test the waters in preparation to launch our own Coast party. Winning this seat will be a turning point for us,” he said.
Some of the MPs who attended the Ruto meeting have mostly fallen out with ODM, and the revelation of pushing for a new party shows they are planning for 2022 outside of the Odinga-led party.
It also fuels speculation that Dr Ruto would use this new outfit to make inroads in the region.
Before Jubilee announced its withdrawal, Kwale CEC for Finance Bakari Sebe had expressed interest in the seat. A key confidant of Governor Salim Mvurya, it was expected that he would have enjoyed DP Rutos’ support given the close relationship Mr Mvurya has with the Deputy President. Mr Sebe has since opted out of the race.
Mr Bader’s choice to run as an independent candidate also now throws a spanner at ODM’s buoyed confidence. ODM’s Kwale vice-chairman Nicholas Zani and former Bongwe/Gombato MCA Omar Boga will be seeking the party’s ticket.