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Big blow for Mwakwere as running mate defects on eve of primaries

Kwale ODM gubernatorial aspirant Issah Chipera (right) when he announced that former Kinango MP Simeon Mkalla (left) was his running mate. [Photo:Tobias Chanji, Standard]

Kwale governor aspirant Ali Chirau Mwakwere has been dealt a blow after his presumptive running mate, Simeon Mkalla, ditched him for his (Mwakwere’s) opponent.

Mr Mkalla will now be the running mate for Issah Chipera of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

Mwakwere, who joined the opposition in February, is vying on a Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) ticket. He now has to get another running mate.

When WDM leader Kalonzo Musyoka toured Kwale a week ago he endorsed the Mwakwere-Mkalla combination, saying it was a strong team that would beat Governor Salim Mvurya of Jubilee.

Direct ticket

The defection is a boost for Chipera, who will be facing off with Kwale County Assembly Speaker Sammy Ruwa, a former permanent secretary for Forestry and Wildlife, Mohammed Mwarapayo wa Mwachai, and businessman James Gereza Dena in today’s ODM primaries.

Mkalla, a former MP for Kinango, did not explain why he left Mwakwere, who has secured a direct WDM ticket.

Mkalla is believed to be close to ODM and its party leader, Raila Odinga, who had endorsed him months ago and asked him to run for office on the party’s ticket.

On Monday, Mkalla offered to become Chipera’s running mate, saying their government, if elected, would prioritise job creation for the youth.

“Our government will ensure both skilled and unskilled youth get job opportunities to better their living standards,” he said at St Joseph Hall in Ukunda after joining Chipera in a meeting with voters.

Mkalla ran for governor in 2013 on a UDF party ticket and came second with about 20,000 votes behind Mvurya’s 63,000. Mvurya vied on an ODM ticket but has defected to Jubilee.

According to Dr Chipera, Mkalla may have ditched Mwakwere after the former envoy joined Wiper, contrary to voters’ expectations. 

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