Inside Politics

Azimio candidates to face another round of vetting

Thursday, May 5th, 2022 00:00 | By
aikipia Deputy Governor John Mwaniki (left) receives his nomination certificate from Jubilee chairman Nelson Dzuya in Nanyuki on April 27. Mwaniki will vie for the Senate seat. KNA

Candidates who have already secured tickets in parties in the Azimio coalition cannot rest easy yet following revelations that they will still be subjected to another round of vetting before the General Election.

The move, according to top Azimio leaders, is calculated to ensure that the coalition backs only the most popular candidate inwards, parliamentary constituencies or counties to face off with their opponents in the August 9 poll.

Azimio presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga yesterday indicated that weak candidates may be asked to step down in a calculated move to impede Kenya Kwanza Alliance candidates from winning.

This follows the zoning of some areas in a manner that will ensure that the Azimio parties do not compete against each other.

Areas to be affected include Mt Kenya to shield Jubilee and Narc Kenya candidates, Nairobi, Nyanza, Ukambani and those leaning towards the Democratic Action Party (DAP-K) associated with Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa.

According to Raila, who has in the last four days been explaining the strategy to Jubilee aspirants in Mt Kenya region, the withdrawal will be built on consensus and compromise among parties.

Addressing Jubilee aspirants from Nyeri yesterday, Raila warned that the candidates will be given one month to campaign after which an opinion poll will be conducted to determine the most popular candidate.

“Areas where we have, for example Narc Kenya, Wiper, Jubilee, ODM candidates, like in Kiambu, we have agreed that they will go for campaigns in the first one month and after that, we will do a poll and see which among the candidates is the strongest. Then the weaker candidates will be advised to step down so that we don’t divide our votes and lose to the opponents,” Raila said yesterday.

The candidates, according to sources, will be subjected to consensus talks and surveys similar to those carried out by Jubilee Party during primaries to determine who among them stands a better chance of winning against the competition in order to avoid sibling rivalry.

Kaburu Kinoti, who is a member of the think-tank involved in the polling and strategy, told People Daily that after the survey, they will implore the less popular candidates to back the strongest.

“There is a risk of cannibalisation and that is what we are trying to avoid. We are trying to identify the strongest candidate under the Azimio umbrella,” said Kinoti.

Azimio seems to be exploiting the elections timelines whereby parliamentary candidates could have up to June 7 to be cleared by the Independent and Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) before the names are forwarded for printing of ballot papers.

On Tuesday, Raila held a meeting with Azimio candidates from Kiambu and Murang’a at Windsor Golf and Country Club. Yesterday, he met Nyeri candidates and today, he is expected to have sessions with those from Nakuru and Nyandarua.

Power sharing

According to sources, while the meetings have been projected as normal campaigns, they are deliberate to caution the aspirants on the imminent withdrawal of the candidatures to avert fallouts.

“We have areas where you find that we do not have ODM candidates. There are areas where we share like Nairobi. Out of 85 wards, 43 are Jubilee and 42 ODM. In the former, only Jubilee will field candidates and ODM supporters are advised to support these Jubilee candidates,” said Raila citing the case of Nairobi to illustrate the power sharing deal among Azimio parties.

“In the parliamentary seats we have 17 slots in Nairobi, whereby Jubilee has eight, ODM eight and Wiper one. In Nakuru, if Jubilee and ODM were to field candidates, we would share votes and so we will not field candidates but will instead support Jubilee ones,” he added.

However, what happens if a candidate is prevailed upon but refuses to back own? Kinoti says: “We will push for consensus. Should that fail then there are other ways of going about it but I will not disclose those until we get there.”

The coalition brings together more than 20 political parties among them ODM, Jubilee, Wiper, Party of National Unity, Narc Kenya of Martha Karua, Ubuntu People’s Forum of Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui (but who is defending his seat on a Jubilee ticket) and Devolution Empowerment Party of Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi.

Also in the outfit are Kenya Union Party of West Pokot Governor John Lonyang’apuo, Pan African Alliance of Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, Wamalwa’s DAP-K, Narc of Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and Maendeleo Chap Chap of Governor Alfred Mutua (Machakos).

That the move has been deliberated and agreed on by the Azimio family was demonstrated when Karua told her party’s candidates that though they had been given nomination certificates, not all of them will be on the ballot.

“A time may come in another one month when a survey will be done to know who will be the leading candidates and if we field Azimio candidates, we are likely to give the competition a walkover,” she said.

“Work hard so that when we do the survey, you will be the leading candidate. But no decisions will be made about your seat without you and that is why we are issuing certificates so that if there are talks, you will be involved,” said Karua.

Transport Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge, who is among eminent persons playing a role in Uhuru’s succession, said they were determined to avoid sibling rivalry as well as fallouts within the Azimio camp to ensure they win most seats.

“There will also come a time when we will have to sit down because there are places where we have Jubilee, ODM, PNU, Narc Kenya (candidates). We agree that we have one candidate so that we get the victory,” Njoroge said.

Gang up

History professor Macharia Munene says by avoiding sibling rivalry among the affiliate parties, the coalition is trying to minimise risks of losing.

“There is that risk that if the Azimio affiliate parties compete against each other, they will give the UDA person an easy ride. By working on a formula to find one candidate who they feel is the strongest, they are basically ganging up to increase the chances of winning,” Munene told People Daily.

A case of how sibling rivalry can cost a coalition victory, pundits argue, was how Nixon Korir, who in 2017 was considered a weak candidate, won the Langata seat.

The victory was attributed to the decision by Nasa parties to field candidates.

Korir won the seat with 41,086 votes, beating ODM’s Oscar Omoke who garnered 39,593 votes. Also in the contest was Judith Sijeny (Wiper), Kiprotich Tunoi (Chama Cha Mashinani), Daniel Odera (Ford Kenya) and William Kipkemboi (ANC) all of who were Nasa backers.

There were also eight independent candidates, most of them who left ODM after party nominations.

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