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IEBC leaves open window for nomination losers to run as independent candidates

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had last year whipped their members in Parliament to pass a law barring politicians from changing parties after they lose primaries to be held between April 13 and 26.

But a window in the law the MPs passed may just come as a reprieve for party nomination losers. They might not run to the other parties, but they can contest the August 8 elections as independents.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga have been dealt a huge blow after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) left open a window for party nomination losers to run as independent candidates.

“Candidates intending to participate in the general election as independent candidates shall not be members of any political party by 8th May, 2017, being 3 months before the General Election,” the IEBC said in a Gazette notice signed by its chairman Wafula Chebukati.

With parties expected to have completed their nominations by April 26, politicians who will not be satisfied with the outcome of party primaries will have 14 days until May 8 to resign from their parties and run as independents.

HIGH STAKES

There might be many, given the high stakes in the polls.

Last month, Mr Chebukati vowed to crack the whip on those he said were waiting to flout the law.

“If you want to run as independent, do not engage in the nomination of a political party. The law was made to stop that, and we will make sure it does,” Mr Chebukati had said.

The battle to clinch tickets from the big political parties has been aggressive and sometimes violent.

For parties such as President Kenyatta’s Jubilee and Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), getting the nomination ticket in their strongholds is as good as being elected.

Due to the intense pressure, politicians have either formed new parties or joined alternative ones where they are assured of direct tickets and a date with destiny on August 8.

Meanwhile, Mr Chebukati, in the notice dated March 17, set the date for presidential candidates to submit their names by May 28 and 29.

Mr Chebukati also set the campaign period to start on May 28 and end on August 5, 48 hours to the elections.

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