President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main opponent, Nasa leader Raila Odinga, today retreated to their bedrock support bases to calm restive constituencies smarting from nominations that left many aspirants disgruntled.
Whereas the President took his campaign to Nyandarua, where he urged his supporters to come out in large numbers on August 8, Mr Odinga was in his Kisumu backyard where he held talks with both the winners and losers of the ODM nominations, after which he addressed a rally ahead of a bigger one slated for tomorrow.
During the talks, he emphasised the need for concerted efforts to ensure a high voter turn-out.
He and his key lieutenants also reiterated the need for unity between both the winners and losers while throwing jibes at independent candidates.
The Opposition flag-bearer also urged the electoral commission to work towards ensuring free, fair and transparent elections.
He accused the commission of micro managing political parties by declaring dates for party nominations, which he said affected ODM primaries.
Mr Odinga’s strategists fear that if the disgruntlement is left to fester, it could injure his chances of clinching the presidency in his fourth attempt.
“We in ODM had planned to carry out our nominations beginning January to allow for time to solve any underlying issues but it is IEBC that insisted that we wait until they gazetted all aspirants,” Mr Odinga told the leaders.
He said according to their plans, the primaries were to be staggered from January to allow for time for repeat polls in cases where disputes would arise.
Nominations in some regions of Nyanza, where ODM enjoys strong support, were marred by irregularities, leading loser to declare that they would run as independents.
Addressing the meeting, ODM chairman John Mbadi said it was dishonest for some candidates to purport to support Mr Odinga while they were not ODM members.
“Independent candidates are not our candidates and we will only back ODM contestants,” he said. “Parties are like religion and once you become a member, you only follow the doctrines of the party.”
Mr Odinga has insisted that he will only campaign for ODM candidates and in areas where the party does not have representatives, he will rally behind the candidates of parties affiliated to Nasa.
Nasa is tomorrow officially set to launch Mr Odinga’s presidential campaign at Kakamega’s Bukhungu Stadium.
In Nyandarua, President Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, drummed up support for their re-election in the county where the battle for the governor’s and woman representative’s seats had threatened to split the party following claims of irregularities.
This was the two leaders’ first visit to Nyandarua, Laikipia and Nakuru counties after they were cleared to defend their seat in the August 8 polls.
All three counties had been rocked by rows among local leaders after hotly contested nominations.
RAILA IS TROUBLE
However, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto did not dwell on the past, instead urging their supports to back their “team of performers” against the Opposition, whom they said were “feeding the nation on empty propaganda”.
Mr Kenyatta described Mr Odinga as the biggest headache to the country.
“Without him Kenya would be miles away in development. We will not allow him to destabilise the country,” he said at Rurii, Ol Kalou.
Mr Kenyatta said he had no problem with the rest of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) team besides Mr Odinga whom he said, was keen on sabotaging the government.
They kicked off their visit in Ol Kalou and made several stop overs in Ol-jooro Orok, Nyahururu, Subukia, Bahati and Nakuru Town East.
Mr Kenyatta said the visit marked the start of his re-election campaign and that the choice of Nyandarua was deliberate.
“The choice is clear. They say they are 10 million strong. But we represent all Kenyans, 45 million strong. We want no Kenyan to be left behind in our journey of transformation and economic uplifting,” the President said in Nyahururu.
The DP said August 8 will be a race between ‘perpetual complainers’ and the Uhuru team, which has the answers to problems facing Kenyans.
Tomorrow, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto continue with their tour of the region, starting with Rongai, Olenguruone, Kuresoi, Molo and Njoro before winding up their tour in Nakuru Town.