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How DP Ruto hope in Msambweni poll hits a snag

By Anthony Mwangi
Thursday, September 24th, 2020
Deputy President William Ruto salutes Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju, after a press briefing at the party offices in Nairobi yesterday. Photo/PD/Bernard Malonza
In summary
    • ODM party will use opinion polls to pick a “perfect” candidate for the by-election.
    • Party leader Raila said they will use the polls to enhance fairness in the nomination.
    • Raila said they also want to speed up the selection process to give the party ample time for campaigns.
    • He said the party will not favour any aspirant but listen to the voices of the electorate.

Hours after Sharlet Akinyi Mariam resigned from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) on Monday, Deputy President (DP) William Ruto made a rare visit to Jubilee Party headquarters, to check on preparations for the upcoming Msambweni by-election, in Kwale County.

And yesterday, Dr Ruto was back at the party headquarters along Thika Road accompanied by Mariam, who the DP’s camp indicated had been earmarked for the Jubilee ticket for the Msambweni poll.

Mariam had on Monday written a resignation letter to ODM, before travelling to Nairobi to formally present her papers to Jubilee yesterday, only for the party to pull a fast one on her, with Secretary General Raphael Tuju issuing a statement that they will not be fielding a candidate in the by-election.

The seat fell vacant following the death of ODM Member of Parliament Suleiman Dori in March this year.

Party decision

Speaking at the party headquarters yesterday, Ruto revisited his “brokers and thugs” taking over the Jubilee Party jibe, saying he had gone back to reclaim it.

Asked by a journalist whether his coming back to the party headquarters showed he was taking it from “brokers”, Ruto responded: “You have rightly put it”.

While Ruto said he had a different opinion on the party’s decision not to field a candidate in Msambweni, he was quick to admit that he accepted the party position and urged Mariam to look for another vehicle to pursue her political ambition.

The DP said he was ready to campaign for the candidate, should she request him to do so, a move that could turn the Musambweni by-election into the next battlefield between him, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Asked if he will support Mariam in the campaigns since she was his choice in the mini poll, Ruto said: “If she sweet talks me I will support her fully in the campaigns.”

Ruto arrived at the party headquarters at 1.46pm and went straight into a meeting with Tuju which lasted three hours, after which they came out and made the announcement that the party was in agreement not to field a candidate in Msambweni.

Tuju had explained that given Jubilee’s current cooperation with ODM, the party saw it fit not to field a candidate.

Tuju also said the country faces serious issues currently, following Chief Justice David Maraga’s call for the dissolution of Parliament for failing to legislate laws to implement the gender rule.

Constitutional matters

“The country has very serious constitutional matters to deal with that will require sobriety and reaching across the political divide, in order to navigate our beloved country across some of these challenges,” said Tuju.

He added: “This announcement has been made in good time so that any aspirant who has interest in a Jubilee ticket still has other pathways to running for the seat.”

The DP, said Msambweni will be the last one where Jubilee will be missing out because in future, the party will field candidates in all elections.

“I want to assure our supporters that the party is not folding. We have accepted the party decision but in the coming days this will not happen and we will field candidates. This is probably the last time,” Ruto said.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was compelled to set a date for the elections after residents threatened to stage huge demonstrations.

The by-election is slated for December 15 after the initial  date in June was cancelled due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.

At least 10 candidates showed interest in the seat.

ODM has indicated its intention to field a candidate in the by-election with Raila assuring that the party would use opinion polls to pick a “perfect” candidate for the by-election.

It is not the first time Jubilee Party is being rocked by divisions ahead of a by-election.

During the Kibra by-election in Nairobi, the ruling party was involved in a similar situation as Ruto and the party mandarins read from different scripts.

Successful petition

While Ruto supported professional football player McDonald Mariga’s candidature, Tuju was then said to have preferred a different candidate.

The DP’s camp claimed then that Tuju had hatched a plot to field a weak candidate in order to help the ODM candidate win.

The Uhuru wing of the party, however, insisted that it was in charge of party affairs even as it accused Ruto’s side of pushing for Mariga’s candidature, through a fake list of candidates to hoodwink the electorate.

Ruto and the Jubilee Party allied to President Uhuru was involved in yet another spat over the candidature of  Sheikh Ibrahim for the Wajir West parliamentary by-election. Ruto was fronting Ahmed Kolosh who eventually won the seat.

Kolosh had decamped from ODM after the Supreme Court nullified his election in January 2019.

A month after the nullification, Ruto received Kolosh at the Jubilee Party headquarters and announced that he would be their candidate in the subsequent Wajir West by-election.

“As we welcome you to our party, we want to assure you that we will campaign for you to win,” Ruto said then.

The Wajir West seat fell vacant following a successful petition filed by Abdirahman Ibrahim Mohammed of Kanu.

ODM had intended to field Prof Mohamed Yussuf but pulled out at the last minute after what they termed as “consultations” with Jubilee Party leaders. This was even after the IEBC had cleared their candidate to contest the seat.

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