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Jubilee declare war on small defector parties

Jubilee Deputy secreary General Caleb Kositany, Secretariat Raphael Tuju (centre) and Secretary General Veronica Maina(right) address a press conference. (Photo: Willis Awandu/Standard)

Politicians defecting from Jubilee Party to smaller parties while claiming to back President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election have been warned. The declaration of war on the defectors came on the back of rising defections from Jubilee to outfits such as Party of National Unity (PNU), Maendeleo Chap Chap, Democratic Party, Narc-Kenya and Chama Cha Mashinani.

And to appease defectors who have cited fears the nominations might be manipulated, Jubilee’s head of secretariat Raphael Tuju yesterday announced the party would engage the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to discuss how the electoral body will conduct the party primaries including an agreeable budget.

“Those running away from Jubilee to other parties are doing so at their own peril. We will field Jubilee candidates in all the areas. We have not signed any pact with any political party or coalition,” said Tuju, referring to the legal requirement that more than one party with a common goal can come together through either a pre-election or post-election coalition agreement.

Meru Governor Peter Munya has taken over leadership of Party of National Unity after declining to join Jubilee Party and has been receiving defectors. Munya, who is also the Council of Governors chairman, is understood to have been apprehensive that Senator Kiraitu Murungi, who was instrumental in the formation of JP, and who wants to vie for the Meru governor’s seat, could be favoured in the primaries.

Two aspirants for the Embu governor’s seat, Kithinji Kiragu and former Transport PS Cyrus Njiru have joined PNU. Mr Njiru, however, has warned late entrant Kiragu that he already has bagged PNU’s ticket and he should shop elsewhere.

President Uhuru’s former advisor on Education Kilemi Mwiriria who, too, is eyeing the Meru governor’s seat, has joined Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap party.

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Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti, who wants to run for the governor’s seat, has fled to Maendeleo Chap Chap, leaving Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire to fight it out with the incumbent, Nyagah Wambora, for the Jubilee Party ticket.

All these parties insist they are supporting President Uhuru’s re-election in order to find favour with the electorate in a region that heavily backs Uhuru.

But Jubilee yesterday sounded an alarm that those in competition with their party’s candidates will be treated as Opposition.

Jubilee Party officials had on Tuesday evening met with President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, who are party leaders and deputy party leaders, respectively, and agreed to expedite negotiations with the commission led by IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati over conducting nominations.

IEBC has been laying the ground to supervise party primaries for what could possibly test their logistical preparedness.

Political parties are required by law to conduct their primaries at least 60 days before elections.

Mr Tuju assured aspirants that there are no preferred candidates and warned leaders claiming they have the endorsements of Uhuru and Ruto that no one would get direct nomination.

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“Our aim is to carry a credible process, that is why we are seeking the services of IEBC which has got the expertise in elections,” Tuju told a press briefing at the party’s headquarters in Nairobi.

Tuju argued that the party is yet to name its National Elections Board (NEB) in line with the provisions of its Constitution and wondered why aspirants were getting scared of a process whose leadership is yet to be agreed upon.

“Aspirants running away for fear of being locked out after party primaries will still face Jubilee aspirants at the ballot,” Tuju added.

He labeled the defectors “cowards” who should look for other reasons for leaving Jubilee instead of alleging fear of bungled nominations.

The propaganda about who is closer to Uhuru and Ruto is intended to intimidate rivals ahead of the party primaries. Jubilee Party’s secretary general Veronica Maina warned those wishing to contest in the nominations to desist from using the names of the president and his deputy.

“Let it be clear that we don’t have preferred candidates and any aspirant using the names of party leader and his deputy will be in for a rude shock,” said Ms Maina.

IEBC has said that political parties that request their services will be required to submit a credible list of party members who will vote for their preferred candidates.

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