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New twist as police probe Mariga over by-election documents

Soccer star McDonald Mariga (left) with his lawyer Oliver Kipchumba. when they filed a formal complaint at the IEBC offices in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/TABITHA MBATIA

Irene Githinji and Oscar Obonyo

A day after being denied clearance to contest in the upcoming Kibra by-election, football star MacDonald Mariga yesterday cut a lonely figure as he presented his petition against the electoral commission’s shock decision.

Unlike the colourful parade mounted by supporters and dancers who had accompanied him as he collected his nomination papers from the Jubilee Party headquarters, Mariga was accompanied to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) headquarters by a handful of people.

But as he presented his petition, sources told People Daily that police were interested in establishing the authenticity of some of the documents he had used in his application, especially his Identity Card.

The sources said there were concerns about the dates appearing in some of the documents and detectives had set out to establish the truth. Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti did not respond to our inquiries on the said investigations.

Yesterday, Mariga arrived at the Anniversary Towers offices of the electoral body at about noon accompanied by his lawyer Oliver Kipchumba, Lang’ata MP Nixon Korir and a handful of other people. No Jubilee Party official was present. 

However, the party secretary general Raphael Tuju confirmed that Jubilee was enjoined in Mariga’s petition: “We have put in an appeal as required and expect a determination by Friday,” Tuju said. 

In his complaint to the IEBC Dispute Resolution Committee, Mariga said he registered as a voter on August 26, 2019, at Kariokor Social Hall in Starehe constituency and was issued with an acknowledgement slip, which he displayed. 

Korir read malice in denying Mariga a chance to take part in the November 7 by-election but insisted that Jubilee was firmly in the race and that they will continue campaigning for their candidate. And should the tribunal uphold the decision to lock out Mariga, Korir said they would contest the issue in court.

The People Daily separately established that some members of the Jubilee Party, including top officials, were not keen on Mariga’s candidature in the Kibra race but that owing to Deputy President William Ruto’s push for Mariga’s candidature, some officials at the party’s secretariat reportedly opted to take a backseat “and let Ruto have his way”. 

According to sources, the Jubilee faction said to be sympathetic to Kieleweke (a group of MPs supporting the political Handshake between President Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila Odinga) had decided to take a back seat to watch the unfolding events after their advise against fronting the soccer star was ignored.

“You can read the signs on the wall for yourself. Don’t you find it ironical that nobody from the secretariat accompanied him (Mariga) to the IEBC headquarters?

Do you think Mariga would have gone there alone if the party was determined to capture the seat?,” posed a senior Jubilee official who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The source further claimed that the President has seemingly not been keen on the Kibra by-election.

“Initially, the President had hinted to some people close to him that it would have been a good gesture to support the ODM candidate in the spirit of the Handshake.

But after some people pushed through their agenda to field a candidate, he has not shown any interest,” said the source.

Asked whether they would consider replacing Mariga with another candidate if the tribunal upholds the decision by its Kibra Returning Officer Beatrice Muli, party SG Tuju said they will have to consult with the electoral body on whether the law allows that. 

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, who had accompanied Mariga to the IEBC constituency offices on Tuesday, maintained the footballer was going to be on the ballot: “Ideally, ahead of every election, the registration exercise has to be stopped three months to the polls to enable IEBC to retrieve the registration details and prepare voters lists.

But because the Constitution allows continuous registration, we cannot punish Mariga because of IEBC’s administrative challenges.”

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, a leading member of a group of MPs opposed to Ruto presidency after 2022, said the Mariga’s nomination was aimed at frustrating the Handshake between Uhuru and Raila, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader.  

“We had a by-election in Embakasi South constituency in Nairobi and we did not field a candidate, why are we fielding one in Kibra constituency which is Raila’s backyard?

We are simply provoking him and we are also poking fun at the peace that we have enjoyed since the Handshake,” Kamanda said.

Noting there are politicians in the ruling party who do not support the Handshake, the Kieleweke de-facto leader singled the Deputy President as the one who pushed Mariga’s candidature. 

“He is forcing us to do battle with Odinga’s party just because he wants to test political waters in the city. This is selfish and it goes against the Handshake spirit.” 

“I am happy that ODM has nominated the late Ken Okoth’s brother as its candidate for the Kibra seat.

That makes it even easier for me to support him, because he is my former colleague’s brother and most of us who are allied to the President regard him as the Handshake candidate.” 

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