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Jubilee approves over 7,000 aspirants for party primaries

President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto during the launch of Jubilee Party membership smart cards in January 2017. [Photo, File]

Jubilee Party has cleared 7,893 aspirants to contest various seats in the primaries set to begin on April 21.

The party, which is gearing up for the make-or-break nominations, has given approval to 107 contestants for governorship, 156 senatorial aspirants and 170 woman representative hopefuls.

The bulk of those cleared are contesting the Member of the County Assembly (MCA) seats with 6,476 contenders making the cut while 984 applicants are gunning for the National Assembly seats.

At the end of the clearance process, the party made more than Sh700 million in nomination fees collected from the aspirants.

But President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election vehicle appears to be running into headwinds in his Mt Kenya backyard.

An analysis of data obtained from the Jubilee Party headquarters indicated that most aspirants in the President’s backyard might have moved to smaller parties as they prepared for the election-proper.

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Although a substantial number of aspirants are eyeing the party ticket for different seats in the forthcoming nominations, the numbers are not as high as expected in a region where the new outfit is supposed to enjoy massive support.

While the party ticket is a hot cake in Rift Valley, the home turf of Deputy President William Ruto, the ticket has attracted few contenders in the populous Mt Kenya region.

Some key party functionaries are expected to get direct tickets after they failed to get opposition in the preliminary round.

Those likely to be issued with direct tickets include Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi for governorship and governors Samuel Tunai (Narok), Ken Lusaka (Bungoma), Ali Roba (Mandera) and Samburu’s Moses Lenolkulal.

Others with no opposition for governorship include Turkana Senator John Munyes, Mombasa politician Suleiman Shahbal and Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya who recently ditched ODM.

By yesterday, the party had received few contenders wishing to participate in the primaries in Central Kenya compared to the overwhelming numbers registered in Rift Valley.

Sifting through the records, The Standard established that every elective seat in Mt Kenya region has an average of three to four aspirants compared to Ruto’s turf that leads with up to 17 candidates per seat.

Nyeri, for example, has five gubernatorial contenders, Kiambu has three while Meru has only Kiraitu as the sole candidate aspiring to fly the JP flag.

This is a very low number compared to the Nandi gubernatorial race in Rift Valley, which has attracted nine aspirants while the Senate race for the same county has attracted 15 candidates.

In Ruto’s Uasin Gishu County, 13 hopefuls are lining up to battle for the woman representative seat with the same number are in the race for Senate.

It is the same scenario in the parliamentary race where constituencies in Rift Valley have attracted large number of contestants compared to Central Kenya.

For instance, Turbo constituency in Uasin Gishu has 18 aspirants, Soy has 17 hopefuls and Bomet East has attracted 16 while Konoin has 13 contenders.

The positions of MCA and governorship have drawn considerable interest but aspirants seeking the JP ticket are few in Mt Kenya region.

Some MCA seats in the region have attracted as low as three candidates in an area where the JP ticket would be considered an advantage being the president’s party.

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Party Vice Chairman David Murathe attributed the low numbers to “the fear of the law barring party hopping by aspiring candidates”.

While dismissing claims that some aspirants had already been assured of tickets, Murathe said the new party was preparing to conduct free and fair nominations.

“We are prepared to conduct what we are calling a mini-election in a free and fair manner. Get it from me, the nomination process will be above board and those with numbers will definitely prevail,” he said.

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