UDA, Wiper race against time to replace Gachagua, Sunkuli
United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and the Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) parties were yesterday rushing against time to find candidates to replace Mathira parliamentary aspirant Rigathi Gachagua and his Narok senatorial counterpart Andrew Sunkuli who were picked as running-mates for Deputy President William Ruto and Kalonzo Musyoka respectively.
On Tuesday, UDA National Elections Board Chair Anthony Mwaura declared the Mathira Parliamentary seat vacant and called for interested members to submit their applications before tomorrow.
“On 15 May 2022, Rigathi Gachagua the UDA Candidate for a member of National Assembly Mathira constituency was nominated as the UDA presidential candidate. As a result, he will not be contesting the MP, Mathira constituency seat. In view of this development, the UDA party now invites applications from aspirants interested in contesting for this position within the next three days from the date of this notice,” reads part of the invitation.
Before his appointment as the Kenya Kwanza coalition running mate, Gachagua had been identified as the UDA parliamentary aspirant for Mathira.
The Wiper party meanwhile was still shopping around for a suitable candidate to fly its ticket in the Narok senatorial race where Sunkuli would have faced off with current senator Ledama ole Kina and current Narok governor Samuel Tunai.
Wiper Secretary General Shakila Abdalla told People Daily no person has expressed willingness to vie for the Senatorial seat under the party’s ticket.
“We have not received any application from any aspirant to take up the ticket under Wiper. Once we get an aspirant we will ask IEBC if we can field. As of now, we still don’t have a candidate,” said Abdalla.
Narc Kenya Secretary General Michael Orwa did not comment on whether their party will replace a candidate for the Kirinyaga gubernatorial seat.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) remained cagey on whether a political party or coalition could replace a candidate who had been picked to run as a running mate to the presidential candidate. An IEBC commissioner Justus Nyang’aya however stated that political parties have only three days to withdraw a candidate and replace them after they present their papers to the commission’s Returning Officers. The Electoral agency says that it will only replace a candidate once served with a court order.
Nyang’aya told People Daily those who have been nominated by their respective political parties would have an opportunity to present their papers before the Returning Officers on appropriate dates. He stated that once the aspirant has been cleared by the IEBC, the political party that wishes to replace such candidate will only have three days to do so.
“We will not change or allow any political party to change a candidate unless we are served with a court order. The only time we can allow the change is when a candidate presents papers and the party wishes to replace the candidate, we will allow only three days from the date of the presentation of the papers to the returning officer,” said Nyang’aya.
Yesterday, some candidates in Mathira constituency had already voiced their intention to replace Gachagua.
Konyu Ward representative Eric Wamumbi and UDA party nominee was among those who expressed interest in the ticket. While making the announcement yesterday, the MCA said he feels qualified for the ticket, citing his record as a ward representative in the said ward. Wamumbi, a first-time MCA even promised to safeguard the development records by Rigathi by ensuring fairness in bursary disbursement, upgrading learning institutions and improvement of roads.
“I am making a promise to the people of Mathira that I will finish all pending projects as a matter of priority and initiate new ones,” he said.
Some of the Ward reps from the County Assembly also threw their weight behind Wamumbi, saying that the lawmaker has a proven legislative record and hoped that he will continue with the same should he get elected as an MP.
On Tuesday, Gachagua had asked his supporters during the burial ceremony of his late brother James Reriani to allow him to recommend his successor to them.
“Will you allow me to name my successor that I have a bigger assignment in Nairobi,?” he posed. Rigathi was elected in 2017 in hotly contested elections that he nearly lost to Wambura Maranga. A source who spoke in confidence indicated Rigathi has already identified Wamumbi as his successor.