Inside Politics

Beaten bigwigs rush to ditch parties for independent tags

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022 08:25 | By
The chair person of the Independent Candidates Forum, Esther Thairu (centre), addresses the media in Nairobi yesterday. On the left is MP aspirant for Ruiru Constituency Solomon Maina, and forum vice chairperson Macharia Ndung’u (right). PHOTO/Gerald Ithana

Political bigwigs who lost in the ongoing party nominations are rushing to the Registrar of Political Parties to be declared independent candidates, with less than two weeks to the deadline for one to be freed from any political affiliation.

Many of those who lost have claimed they were subjected to unfair processes, hence their decision to vie for seats without any party’s backing in August.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has set May 2 as the last day for anyone wishing to vie as an independent candidate to disentangle from political outfits. 

Parties have until this  Friday to conduct primaries, leaving many aspirants with barely 10 days to go before they submit their requests to the Registrar for clearance. 

Get clearance certificate

Politicians seeking to be declared independent will have to contend with stringent measures, including submitting 1,000 signatures and copies of IDs cards of their supporters to the electoral agency. They are also required to have a symbol that will appear alongside their names in the ballot papers. This is in addition to acquiring a clearance certificate from the Registrar’s office.  

Many senior political figures have said they will run as independents after losing in the primaries.  They include  Embu Senator Njeru Ndwiga, MPs Patrick Wainaina Jungle (Thika Town), Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North), Peris Tobiko (Kajiado East) and Wilson Sossion (nominated).  

Ndwiga termed the UDA nominations shambolic, claiming they were full of irregularities and that voters were bribed to vote for particular candidates.

“I have never seen such nominations in my life. There was a lot of bribery; voters were being given money as they queued to vote. We cannot accept this. Where did they get this money to bribe voters?” he asked.

Senator Ndwiga was trounced by Embu Deputy Governor David Kariuki, who secured the UDA ticket after garnering 27,915 votes. Ndwiga was second with 19,062.

Cheboi, who is also the National Assembly Deputy Speaker, declared he would still defend the Kuresoi North MP seat after losing in the UDA primaries last Thursday. 

He was defeated by Sirikwa Ward MCA Alfred Mutai. Cheboi is serving his second term. He came second after garnering 12,454 votes against Mutai’s 17,180 votes.

“Let us meet in August. I thought it was going to be a fair process but, for the sake of all my supporters who were denied their rights, I will be in the ballot in August,” said Cheboi  

Jungle has also opted for the independent route, terming the UDA primaries a sham. He lost to Senator Kimani Wamatangi. Wainaina accused the party of hatching a plot to rig him out by having his popular name ‘Jungle’ missing in the ballot papers.

“I believed the process would be free and fair but I sensed trouble when the ballots came out with a distorted picture of me, minus the name Jungle which I am known by. I thought UDA was different from other parties; that it would deliver a credible nomination,” said the legislator.

“I want to assure my supporters and the people of Kiambu that my name will be on the ballot. My record speaks for itself in matters development and service delivery,” said Jungle, who was elected MP as an independent candidate  in 2017 after losing in the Jubilee Party primaries.

Sossion, who emerged third in the race for Bomet senator, also said he was exploring the opportunity to vie for the seat again in the General Election. 

“It is not just shortchanging Wilson Sossion, it is shortchanging the people of Bomet. If this opportunity did not present a fair chance to the people of Bomet, then there will be another chance that will be presided over by another independent body,” he said as he revealed he was in negotiations with local Senator Christopher Lang’at to support one candidate to face Hillary Sigei, who won the UDA ticket.  

Former Tharaka Nithi Governor Samuel Ragwa has also declared he will vie for the county’s Senate seat without any party affiliation after losing the UDA primaries

Comedian Jasper Muthomi, alias MC Jessy, has also quit Ruto’s outfit for an independent slot in the race for the South Imenti MP post. Last week, the DP urged him to step down for Mwiti Kathaara. 

Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero has also already been cleared by the Registrar to run for Homa Bay’s seat as an independent after quitting Orange Democratic Movement last week. He left the outfit after party leader Raila Odinga brokered a truce that allowed Woman Representative Gladys Wanga to run for the seat on ODM. 

Yesterday, members of the Independent Candidates Forum of Kenya asked the IEBC to scrap the stringent requirements, saying they were making their quest to lead extra harder.

“We strongly object to IEBC introducing the requirements for candidates to obtain copies of identity cards from signatories to their nomination. This was not a requirement in the 2017 election,” said the forum’s chairperson, Esther Thairu. 

She said they were yet to receive from IEBC the booklets in which their supporters would sign. “We have been told we cannot use our own; we have to wait for IEBC to provide them,” added Thairu, who is running for the Nairobi governor seat.  

They said they were receiving applications from many people who lost in the primaries but now want to join the forum.  “We are ready to welcome all those who lost and have declared they will run as independent,” said Geoffrey Ndung’u, who is vying for the Maragua seat.  

Filed petition in court

Yesterday, a group of independent candidates filed a petition in the High Court seeking to form coalitions and quashing of the requirement to submit 1,000 ID copies. 

Through lawyer Dansan Omari, the Free Kenya Movement also wants the court to allow them to form coalitions with other parties.  They also want the Political Parties Act declared unconstitutional.

Omari says independent candidates should be given an opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights.

He said that in 2013, Parliament had four independent candidates while in 2017, there were more than 13; and the number could increase in the August elections.

On the issue of submitting copies of supporters’ ID cards, the candidates said it is discriminatory because political parties are only required to submit their membership lists certified by the Registrar of Political Parties. 

“This is discriminatory against independent candidates who are required to submit to the returning officers duly-filled forms of their supporters. These forms should be accompanied by copies of the identification documents of their supporters,” reads the court papers.

- Additional reporting by Oliver Musembi, Alphonce Mung’ahu and Brian Malila

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