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Tension rises as parties continue with primaries

ODM National election board Chairperson Judith Pareno adress a press conference on the ongoing nominations in Nairobi. Photo by JENIPHER WACHIE

Political parties continue with their nominations today, with Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama being the highest ranking official to face his opponents in a tension-packed Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) nomination.

Wiper Democratic Party and Amani National Congress saved some of their big names from the energy-sapping primaries by giving them direct nominations. But it will be make or break for Mr Nyagarama who faces two medical doctors – West Mugirango MP James Gesami and John Kumenda – in a contest that has stretched political tensions in the county to their limit.

Wiper conducts its nominations in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River, and Lamu, while the Musalia Mudavadi-led ANC conducts its nominations today in Busia, Kisii, and Wajir. ODM is in Nyamira.

Free ticket

Wiper party Secretary-General Hassan Omar, who is aspiring to unseat Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho (ODM), got a direct nomination. The party also granted a free ticket to former Minister Chirau Makwere, who is vying for the Kwale governor’s seat. ANC also granted its aspirant for the Busia governor’s seat, Humphrey Nakitare, an automatic certificate.

For Nyagarama, the nominations today stand between him and the high office he has occupied since 2013 as fear and anxiety hung over this agriculturally rich county as the governor faces his opponents, each of whom has vowed to send the soft-spoken politician home.

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Yesterday, Nyagarama claimed that there were plans to rig the nominations. He alleged that the party planned to use the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) list of voters and not the one prepared by ODM to manipulate the outcome of the polls.

The governor said the only legal way of handling the polls was by using the party’s membership register and not the general roll which, according to him, is not provided for in the party’s elections guidelines.

But his opponents, Dr Gesami and Dr Kumenda, have insisted that the IEBC register was the most credible document.

Gesami said the party register that Nyagarama wanted used was faulty and needed a thorough audit before it could be considered for the primaries.

Gesami claimed Nyagarama had unfair access to the register which he was stressing should be used and that he had doctored it to suit his interests and to the disadvantage of the other aspirants.

Gesami insisted that if Orange House provided an authentic voter register, then it would be ideal for the party to go ahead and conduct the poll using it.

Kumenda, has also questioned the credibility of the party membership register, which he claimed had been doctored to suit the personal interests of some aspirants.

The county returning officer for the nominations, Thadeus Nyachwaya, said the party membership roll would be used in the nominations.

“The party constitution is very clear and there is no way we can bend the rules. Only ODM registered members will be allowed to vote. We are assuring everyone that the nominations will be free and fair,” Mr Nyachwaya said.

The controversy has caused panic among candidates about which register should be used.

Besides the governor’s race, a fierce contest is also expected in West Mugirango, where four aspirants – Peter Omboga, Julius  Matere, Dennis  Moturi, and Polycarp Orero – are fighting to replace Gesami. Kitutu Masaba MP and ODM’s national Treasurer Timothy Bosire and his North Mugirango and Borabu counterparts, Charles Geni and Yabesh Nyandoro respectively, were given direct nominations.

Also given direct tickets were Woman Representative Alice Chae and Senate seat aspirant Eric Okongo Mogeni.

ODM nominations in Kajiado are likely to be low-key after the party dished out direct nominations to Governor David Nkedianye and Kajiado Central MP Elijah Memusi.

Stiff contest

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But a stiff contest is expected for both the Senate and woman representative seats. Four aspirants – Esther Karapio Somoire, Justine Simayiai Ratika, Lucy Naneu Shurake, and Caroline Letura – are gunning for the post.

The  Senate seat has been reduced to a two-horse race pitting Jeremiah Toire Risa Nakaya against Tinaayani Daniel Koilel.

Last week, ODM nominations were off to a rocky start in several counties as the battle to clinch the party’s ticket began.

Confusion marred the the exercise in Bungoma, Busia, and Machakos counties, with voting delayed in several polling stations.

The outcome of the nominations for the Busia gubernatorial race were cancelled. 

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