Uhuru, Raila set for dash to the finish line

Last-minute strategies by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main challenger Raila Odinga to bolster their chances of winning on August 8 can be revealed today.

The two camps have left nothing to chance and are going full throttle in the next 16 days to August 6 when campaigns for the presidential elections will close officially.

OPINION POLLS

The race is expected to be closely fought and neither of the two candidates is taking chances in their quest to shore up their numbers.

For instance, just a day after an opinion poll showed that Mr Kenyatta was trailing Mr Odinga in Nairobi County, the President on Friday embarked on a whirlwind tour of the city, beginning in Dagoretti as he headed to wards Embakasi and other parts of Eastlands.

“In 2013, we divided the votes as Jubilee. Please vote in Jubilee leaders from MCA all the way to President,” he told a rally at Jacaranda Grounds.

CAMPAIGNS
Mr Odinga’s running mate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, was also campaigning in Makueni with a series of rallies in Kibwezi and Mbooni.

On Saturday, Nasa will be in Lamu and Tana River counties before taking their campaigns to Nairobi on Sunday.

On Friday, in Nairobi, the secretaries-general of the parties affiliated to the Opposition coalition, Nasa, alleged that Jubilee intends to use the military to suppress voter turn-out in Opposition strongholds.

ADVERTS
Strategists from the two camps plan to unleash a major advertising blitz, including increased media campaigns.

Both parties are also planning major rallies for the last day of campaigns — in Nairobi — for what is likely to be a show of might before the 19.6 million eligible voters cast their ballots two days later.

READ: 19.6m Kenyans eligible to vote

MAJOR RALLY

Jubilee will be at the Kasarani Stadium where President Kenyatta will make his last final pitch to tell the people why they should re-elect him for another five-year term.

Dr Adams Oloo, who sits in the National Super Alliance think-tank, said that the team will “unleash itself to Kenyans” in the coming two weeks.

“We will go full throttle to pump our people to turn out in very large numbers.

“And then on the last day, we will have the mother of all rallies,” Dr Oloo said. He however could not reveal the venue of the rally.

RAILWAY
Jubilee leaders have in the past been touting their development record, including mega infrastructure projects like the Standard Gauge Railway, the building of roads and extension of electricity.

It has promised voters more of the same with the new rail line being extended to Naivasha and on to Kisumu by 2022 if the party wins this year’s election.

READ: SGR train named Madaraka Express – VIDEO

TJRC REPORT

On the other hand, the Nasa manifesto has unveiled promises that will require big money, including free secondary education starting in September and redressing historical injustices.

In addition, the coalition has promised to tackle corruption and increase allocations to county governments to 45 per cent of the national revenue.

The biggest difference between the two camps is on the issue of what to do with past violations of the rights of Kenyans as recorded in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report.

READ: The bitter truth of the TJRC report

DIVISION
Mr Odinga has committed to implement the report while President Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, have said that effecting it will divide Kenyans.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Kilifi last week, Mr Ruto said implementing the report will re-open old wounds.

However, Mr Odinga committed to implement the report when he met victims of historical injustices who urged him to adopt their demands for reparations in his manifesto.

INJUSTICES
The TJRC, which was led by Bethuel Kiplagat, received more than 40,000 statements from Kenyans who wanted their suffering to be heard, acknowledged and remedied.

Mr Kiplagat died last week and will be buried on Saturday.

In its manifesto, Jubilee says it has “closed the painful chapter in our history through the President’s apology to the country for historical injustices and the resettlement of the internally displaced persons”.

FINANCE
On mobilising voters, both Jubilee and Nasa will be pushing for high voter turnout in their strongholds, as this could make the difference on election day.

“We are going to not only make our vote count, we will also make their (Jubilee) loss count. We will protect our votes – that we will,” Dr Oloo said of the Nasa strategy.

Starting next week, the two camps have also promised to unleash their financial might in advertisements through the mass media, mainly radio and television.

“During the voter registration drives, we did a lot more radio shows and social media – all dependent on the target results.

“Now, with the elections getting here, we will structure these a lot more looking at what we want to achieve,” Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said.

RESEARCH
Nasa, on the other hand, said they will be focused more on radio advertisements and interviews.

Jubilee’s radio strategy will focus particularly in vernacular stations in what officials said will be “a meet-the-people” broadcast at their lowest listenership.

Jubilee has formed a leadership team whose main responsibility is to monitor and research messages of the day for any area visited by the President.

TALK SHOWS
President Kenyatta will on Saturday address rallies in Wajir and Mandera, before heading to Garissa and Isiolo on Sunday.

He will speak during talk shows hosted by two radio stations in the region ahead of the rallies.

This is a strategy he intends to intensify, especially in far-flung and expansive regions such as the Coast and Turkana, as well as the areas Jubilee considers as battleground such as Kisii, Bungoma and parts of the Coast.

NEGLECTED
North Eastern, largely ignored in the 2013 campaigns, has become a battlefield for the two leading presidential contenders, and with 501,894 votes, none of them can ignore them now.

In 2013, President Kenyatta swept the Mandera County votes, getting 92 per cent of the vote as his allies won the seats for governor, senator, and all MPs’ positions.

Mr Odinga won in Wajir, with his party getting five of the six National Assembly seats.

DEFECTORS

Now, President Kenyatta has gone for Mr Odinga’s support base in Wajir, having in the past convinced all MPs and the senator elected on an ODM ticket to defect to Jubilee.

Only Governor Ahmed Abdullahi remains the ODM point man in the county.

In the presidential race in 2013, Mr Odinga garnered 49.5 per cent of the votes cast in Wajir against Mr Kenyatta’s 38.8 per cent.

SOUTH RIFT

In Garissa County, the presidential contest was another close race, with Mr Odinga emerging ahead with 48.6 per cent against 45.3 per cent for Mr Kenyatta.

In Nasa, Mr Musyoka has been charged with consolidating his eastern and upper coastal base, while Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto has been assigned the south Rift region, particularly Bomet, Kericho, Narok and parts of Nakuru.

IPSOS

Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Mr Moses Wetang’ula are in charge of western Kenya, which is vote-rich, but has in the past punched far below its weight because of low voter turnout.

On Sunday, Ipsos is expected to release an opinion poll on the presidential election, which could shape the way the two parties carry out campaigns.

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