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Uhuru, Raila woo swing vote

The final dash for votes by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his protagonist in next week’s presidential contest, Raila Odinga, is focused on their strongholds and swing vote areas.

With 48 hours to the polls, Uhuru returned home in Kiambu County where he pleaded with the 1.1 million voters to come out in large numbers and make a difference on Tuesday.

And the National Super Alliance (NASA) candidate, Raila, took his team to Mombasa, a key stronghold where he expects to harvest a majority of the 278,000 votes on offer.

In Kiambu, the President spoke mostly in his mother tongue, perhaps to drive the message home on why every vote counts and the importance of having a record turnout from the area.

He then moved to Narok, a swing vote area with 341,000 votes, where he was hosted by leaders from the Maa community, including former Tanzania Prime Minister Edward Lowassa at the Suswa grounds.

Many declarations  touching on the political direction the Maa community takes have in the past been passed at Suswa, especially during the reign of late Maasai leader William ole Ntimama.

Raila and his NASA team have a large following in Narok, Kajiado and Maa speaking areas and it appears Jubilee made a deliberate move to use senior respected leaders like Lowassa, hoping it will get them a fair share of votes.

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On Wednesday, NASA was in Bomet and parts of Narok.

In 2013, Raila beat Uhuru in Narok County with 118,623 against 109,413 votes and both have been trying to sway votes in their favour.

President Kenyatta then returned to Nairobi, the seat of power that has 2,250,853 voters, to address his penultimate rally in the city.

Today, Uhuru and Raila will hold rallies in Afraha Stadium in Nakuru and Uhuru Park, Nairobi, respectively, in their final push to convince Kenyans to either re-elect the incumbent for a second and final term or usher in the fifth president.

2013 contest

The face-off between the duo rekindles a similar contest in 2013 when the incumbent won with 6,173,433 votes, representing 50.5 per cent against Raila’s 5,340,546 or 43.7 per cent. Raila challenged the results at the Supreme Court but lost the petition.

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Prior to the rallies yesterday, President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto took to Kikuyu and Kalenjin vernacular radio stations to appeal to the electorate in their strongholds to not only vote for them but ensure a near 100 per cent turnout.

Uhuru was in Kameme, Gukena, Inooro, Coro and Muuga FM stations while Ruto was hosted in Kass, Chamgei and Tach FM stations, where they urged their strongholds to stand with them, accusing their rivals of lacking a clear agenda.

“I need another five years to complete what we have started,” Uhuru told his Gikuyu, Embu, Ameru and Tharaka radio listeners.

Ruto said, “We have lined up several projects across the country and in particular Rift Valley and our request is that another term will help us implement what we had put in the pipeline.”

NASA, on the other hand, were in Tononoka grounds, Mombasa, where they urged the electorate to send home the Jubilee government for making life difficult for ordinary Kenyans.

The Coast region has been a NASA stronghold and Raila urged the residents to deny Uhuru votes because he had shunned them during his four and a half years in power.

In a game of musical chairs in the last hours, Uhuru and Raila campaigns have been checkmating each other, with both trying to undo the rival’s political efforts.

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NASA was in Afraha Stadium in Nakuru last Sunday and Uhuru is today hoping to undo the political damage that the Opposition’s visit may have caused.

Nakuru is home to 940,000 voters, who overwhelmingly voted for President Kenyatta in the last General Election.

Change of itinerary

To heighten the hunt for votes in the swing counties, Raila’s last-minute change of itinerary will see his team have a morning rally in Meru County only two days after Uhuru pitched camp in what was traditionally their political bedrock but has lately gravitated towards a neutral ground.

Two weeks ago, while on a visit to the county, NASA endorsed the re-election of Governor Peter Munya against his closest rival, Senator Kiraitu Murungi, in what was seen as a move to tap into half of the votes.

In the last election, Uhuru garnered 384,000 votes, representing 90 per cent of the total cast, while Raila got a paltry 32,000 representing 7.6 per cent.

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