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Uhuru allies routed in Mt Kenya Jubilee primaries

Former Minister Esther Murugi. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s allies, some very close, were the biggest casualty of the massive booting by voters during the Jubilee Party nominations.

From Nairobi to Meru to Laikipia and Nakuru, some of the rejected faces have been with the President since he started his political career in Kanu in the late 1990s.

Uhuru had pledged not to take sides during the Jubilee Party primaries and appears to have largely kept his word, leading to a bloodbath that has shocked many in his backyard.

In Murang’a County, Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau lost the clamour for the gubernatorial ticket to incumbent Mwangi wa Iria who bagged 205,656 votes against the legislator’s 118,279 votes.

Mr Kamau goes a long way with the President since he was in the group of young Kanu aspirants during Uhuru’s 2002 presidential bid. When John Michuki died in 2011, Kamau replaced him in President Kibaki’s Cabinet thanks to the influence of Uhuru.

And as the bid to form one political vehicle for the President gathered steam, Uhuru entrusted the process of forming the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP), the precursor to Jubilee Party (JP), to Kamau and another close ally and former MP David Murathe, who was also in the 2002 young Kanu aspirants stable.

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In Nyeri County, two former ministers – Esther Murugi and Mutahi Kagwe – were shown the door as was Uhuru’s schoolmate at St Mary’s, Tetu MP Ndung’u Gethenji. Mukurwe-ini MP Kabando wa Kabando, a vocal Uhuru supporter, and Mary Wambui in Othaya were also booted.

The President has a lot of connection with this humiliated Nyeri cast. Kabando will be remembered as the face of the UhuRuto ticket in television debates in the run-up to the 2013 elections.

In Nyeri Town, former political affairs director in Raila Odinga’s 2013 presidential campaign secretariat Ngunjiri Wambugu bagged 17,517 votes to send Ms Murugi, a two-term legislator home. Murugi, who garnered 11,143 votes served in Kibaki’s Cabinet with Uhuru.

Blossoming careers

Newcomer Mwangi Gichuhi also halted the blossoming political career of National Assembly Defence and Foreign Relations Committee Chairperson Gethenji in Tetu. The youthful son of the late former MP Joseph Gethenji retains warm ties with the President, a friendship they established in their days at St Mary’s.

Senator Kagwe has served as master of ceremonies during presidential functions in Nyeri, just like Deputy Senate Speaker Kembi Gitura who lost in the neighbouring Murang’a County to first term Kiharu MP Irungu Kang’ata.

Kagwe was third in the Nyeri gubernatorial primaries with 54,348 trailing Wahome Gakuru’s 114,327 votes and Governor Samuel Wamathai’s 65,492.

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In the Senate race, former Mathira MP Ephraim Maina bagged 126,135 votes against building contractor Dan Wamahiu who got 84,000. Wamahiu and President Kenyatta go a long way. Indeed, when the President made a whistling tour of Mt Kenya to whip up voter registration in January, his first stop for a leader’s meeting was at Thika Greens Golf Club where Wamahiu has substantial stake and was photographed with the head of state.

Wamahiu was also a key player in the presidential campaigns in 2013 for President Kenyatta.

On the eastern slopes of Mt Kenya, Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire floundered in her attempt to secure the party’s gubernatorial ticket. The third term MP secured 43,509 votes against incumbent Martin Wambora’s 60,634.

Ms Mbarire was a key member of the presidential campaign team for Uhuru in Mt Kenya East in the 2013 elections.

In Nairobi, those who lost included gubernatorial aspirants Peter Kenneth and Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru.

Influential names

Kenneth, who lost to Senator Mike Sonko, has accompanied the President in recent functions in Central Kenya. At one such function, the President fell short of endorsing him for the seat. There had been talk of overtures pointing to the presidency to persuade Sonko to step down for Kenneth.

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Waweru, who was beaten by comedian John ‘KJ’ Kiarie, was also in the crowded race to unseat Governor Evans Kidero.

He is the chairman of the influential Mt Kenya Parliamentary Group and sits in the governing council of the Mt Kenya Foundation that brings together the region’s elite and the political class and is seen as an asset to the fundraising lobby.

Mr Waweru also put in considerable fight for the city governor’s seat. But it was a big comeback for some allies of the President who have been out in the cold. Former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru secured the Kirinyaga gubernatorial ticket and may be on course to become to one of the first women governors.

Ms Waiguru is seen as close to the President and was credited with implementing some of Jubilee flagship programmes.

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