Defiance as coalitions root for six-piece August ballot
Deputy President William Ruto and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga are facing growing defiance over their calls to supporters to only vote for candidates vying for seats on their parties in the August 9 General Election.
Ruto, the de facto party leader of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), has been hosting winners of party nominations held last month as he asked supporters to vote for them in the coming elections.
The ODM leader has also implored his base in Nyanza to only vote for the party aspirants.
Despite the spirited campaigns to tighten support in their strongholds, they will have to contend with growing rebellion largely linked to dissatisfaction from party primaries held in April.
A drove of angry losers left the parties after the nominations and will seek seats as independent candidates.
Their allies have, however, continued to preach the six-piece gospel claiming any interference with it risked weakening the powers of the party leaders if they ascended to power.
Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said anyone elected to Parliament as an independent lawmaker does not possess adequate powers to help pass critical policies.
“Bottom-Up policy will be passed by MPs from UDA. You can say you want to elect an independent candidate but when it comes to voting they will not be in a position to elect leaders in Parliament, the Majority Leader, and Majority Whip, these are leaders elected by party members. Even if you don’t like someone nominated by the party, you will be doing zero work when you say you vote for Ruto but you don’t give him powers to pass Bills in Parliament,” said Murkomen, who served as Senate Leader of Majority from the ruling Jubilee Party before he was hounded out of office following the fallout between Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
With the possibility the two Houses might welcome a record number of independent members after August, the senator warned it would be a zero-sum game if Ruto won the presidency but without numbers to adopt his agenda.
Last week, the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu revealed there were over 7000 aspirants who sought clearance from her office to vie for seats without affiliation to any outfit.
It is the highest number ever registered and is almost double the number of those who did the same in 2017.
“Ruto, Kipchumba may like you as an independent candidate but there is a bigger battle up there. We want to produce leaders who are going to be majority leaders, whips, and chairmen of committees who will influence policy in Parliament. I humbly ask you to put your ambitions aside and unite with us to ensure bottom-up is achievable,” added Murkomen.
DP Ruto’s wife
Ruto’s wife, Rachel, has also joined the fray by beseeching her husband’s supporters not to be misled into voting for anyone outside UDA.
She said the DP would be a weak president if he did not have the requisite numbers in county assemblies and Parliament.
Despite the spirited campaign, members of other parties in UDA strongholds have vowed to press on saying it was their democratic right to run for office.
Chama Cha Mashinani leader Isaac Ruto, who is seeking to recapture the Bomet governor’s seat, has dismissed the six-piece calls saying it was counter-productive. Instead, he has been preaching what has been referred to as ‘mix-and-match’ asking voters to elect the DP for president but vote for him as governor.
“Vote for Ruto at the top but vote for me as your governor. We support a bottom-up economy. We are members of Kenya Kwanza coalition. Having more people from other parties vying will ensure there is a huge turnout for Ruto,” the former governor said.
Raila is also struggling to pass across the six-piece message as opposing voices pitch higher as elections near.
In Rarieda, aspirant Augustine Neto Adhola has insisted on running on UDM, a party associated with Ugenya MP David Ochieng.
“I am in the running for the seat. I was denied a chance last time on flimsy reasons. This time around, I am running on a UDM ticket, a party associated with Raila Odinga and I am not backing down at all. I am in it to the end,” says the Nairobi businessman. Last week, the Azimio leader toured Mt Kenya region asking aspirants who were vying for seats on other parties other than Jubilee to prepare to step down if called upon to do so. While in Homa Bay county last month, he also asked residents to only vote for ODM candidates in the region.