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State of the race: Uhuru and Raila step up hunt

With the elections just 8 days away, the main political players are on the final stretch of a tortuous campaign that started way before the final whistle was blown.

Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga are leaving nothing to chance in their pursuit to convince voters why they are the right candidate for the job.

From their intensive campaigns, it is clear that so much is at stake, going by the pattern of their rallies cutting across vast regions.

Six months to the August 8 election has seen major re-alignments in the political arena involving the two political divides.

For President Kenyatta and his brigade, one of the preparations for the D-day was to put his house in order, having resolved to use a different vehicle from the one that handed him the presidency in 2013.

Despite much opposition, Uhuru and his Deputy William Ruto dissolved their parties to give way to Jubilee Party, a new outfit they are using to defend their seats.

On the other hand, the Opposition side, led by Raila, crafted a new alliance to shore up numbers to defeat the Jubilee duo. With their Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) looking for more partners, the Opposition was forced to come up with a new outfit to include others.

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This gave birth to NASA, which Raila and his 2013 running mate Kalonzo Musyoka are using to take a second stab at the Presidency since the promulgation of the new Constitution.

Deadlocks, overhauls and suspicion have been the norm in the past six months as campaigns for the top job kicked into high gear.

NASA kept the country waiting over the choice of candidate, with reports that the negotiations had reached a deadlock. Campaign teams were constituted and reconstituted as each worked around the clock to craft the wining formula.

Traded accusations

The two factions have traded accusations of plots to reject results and to rig and, more recently, involvement of the military to suppress voter turnout.

The ground started shifting with the formation of Jubilee Party, which came about after the dissolution of 11 parties. What followed was an agitation by the Opposition, led by Musalia Mudavadi, for formation of an alliance of opposition parties to challenge President Kenyatta’s re-election.

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However, the Opposition outfit had a number of false starts selecting their presidential candidate, with reports of disagreements and suspicion among the four principals; Raila, Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula, all of whom had presidential ambitions.

Eventually, on April 27, NASA announced that it had settled for Raila as the flag-bearer and Kalonzo as the running – the same team up that lost to Uhuru and Ruto in 2013.

What followed slowly after were key realignments within Jubilee Party to set up a team that would ensure Uhuru secures another term at State House.

Then party acting Secretary General Veronica Maina was re-designated the party’s deputy chairperson in charge of strategy, giving way for former Rarieda MP Raphael Tuju to take over as secretary general.

Constant demands

The presidential campaign team would be spearheaded by a four-member team comprising Tuju, David Murathe, Winnie Guchu and Alfred Gitonga.

NASA has constantly kept the government on edge with constant demands over the management of the election. These disputes spilled to the courts where the outfit filed legal challenges against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), specifically over the printing of ballot papers.

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The recent standoff between the alliance and the IEBC is the “adopt-a-polling-station” push by NASA through which it hopes to have five agents in each of the 41,000 polling stations across the country. But the poll agency and Ministry of Interior have taken a tough stance on the issue, insisting that only accredited agents would be allowed at the polling centres on August 8.

Arguably, Raila delivered Jubilee with propaganda gold when he made easily misconstrued comments touching on land issues in Kajiado.

Jubilee has weaved its campaign message around those comments telling voters that Raila’s presidency was a threat to peace and community integration in the country.

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