Ruto, Raila in final push for Nairobi’s 2.5 million voters
Deputy President William Ruto and Azimio-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga are seeking to have the final say in Tuesday’s election in Nairobi as the campaign period ends tomorrow.
After the push-and-pull, bravado, chest-thumping, insults and finger-pointing, the two aim to throw the knockout punches on Saturday, as they seek to make final pleas with two days to the polls.
The official campaign period began officially on May 29 and ends tomorrow, 48 hours before the polling day.
Elections Act bars anyone from engaging in vote-hunting two days before the polls. Raila expects to hold a major rally at Kasarani Stadium after securing a permit for the venue while Ruto hopes to do the same at Nyayo Stadium although it remains unclear if they will be permitted to get access to it.
Raila, who has acquired the backing of outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, has rallied his supporters to turn up for the final call at Kasarani, with the hope the event will set the mood for a huge turnout on Tuesday.
The Azimio flagbearer, former long-serving Langata MP, has on many occasions claimed Nairobi as his political bedroom, saying he would carry the day on voting day. Ruto has, however, dismissed the assertion, saying the city was full of hustlers he was targeting in his Bottom-Up economic model.
The DP expects to reap most votes from city dwellers who might associate with his Hustlers’ agenda. Other than making the final pitches to the 2.5 million voters in the city, the two will be using the events to attempt to project better popularity than their opponents before D-day. Orange Democratic Movement Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said they were expecting hundreds of supporters to attend the rally, claiming it would be a “Firimbi fest.”
“We expect our supporters to be at Kasarani Stadium early and in large numbers for our last rally. Our lineup in Nairobi is Azimio six. Baba na Mama (for the presidency), Polycarp Igathe (governor), Sifuna (senator), Esther Passaris (Woman Rep), MP and MCA from Azimio. We welcome all for Firimbi fest on Saturday,” Sifuna said.
Raila has launched a Firimbi (whistle) Movement in an attempt to inspire more supporters to vote for them. Those handed the whistles will be blowing them early on Tuesday morning to remind the supporters to vote early.
Although they had initially been barred from holding their rally at Nyayo Stadium, Kenya Kwanza Alliance, led by Ruto, got a reprieve yesterday after the High Court issued orders stopping Sports Kenya from locking them from the venue.
Earlier, the Sports parastatal had written to the alliance, indicating the unavailability of the facility despite the initial approval of their request. In a letter dated July 20, Sports Kenya Director General Pius Metto said the venue would be used for “peace concerts” on August 6 “regretting inconveniences caused” to Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance.
UDA filed a case at the High Court and obtained orders on Thursday allowing them to hold their rally on Saturday.
“An interim order is granted suspending the implementation by the respondent, its servants, employees, agents, successors, assignees or anyone withdrawing the availability of the suit premises to the applicant on August 6 pending the inter-party hearing of the aforesaid motion,” Judge Joseph Sergon High Court said.
It was a reprieve for the alliance that has recently faced challenges in obtaining access to key venues for their penultimate functions. Last Sunday, they were locked out of Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega after the county denied them access to it.
On Thursday, Ruto said they will hold their rally at the stadium after paying for it.
“We have paid for Nyayo Stadium. We have a contract signed between us and them. They tried to manipulate that contract but the court has said we should hold our meeting there,” Ruto said.
Metto yesterday told People Daily that they were waiting for a hearing yesterday, adding he could not comment further on a matter under litigation.
— Additional reporting by Yusuf Masibo