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Jubilee Party faces primaries headache over Sonko and Kenneth row

Nairobi gubernatorial hopeful Peter Kenneth leaves PCEA Church in Githurai after a Sunday service. [Photo: Willis Awandu/Standard]


Nairobi gubernatorial hopeful Peter Kenneth leaves PCEA Church in Githurai after a Sunday service. [Photo: Willis Awandu/Standard]

The vicious feud between Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth threatens to derail the Jubilee Party’s ambition to capture the Nairobi governorship.

Senator Sonko has declared he will only accept a free and fair process, leaving Jubilee strategists guessing his next move after the nominations, which are set for April 13 to 26.

Reports that Sonko may consider running as an independent candidate have left Jubilee strategists scratching their heads as it may split the party’s support base, thus denying it the city for a second time.

Sonko is in Team Nairobi that includes Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru and nominated MP Jonson Sakaja.

Mr Kenneth, who has been on a collision path with Team Nairobi, has also declared that he would not engage in consensus with his opponents for the Jubilee ticket.

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The 2013 presidential candidate says he cannot hold a decent conversation with people who keep hurling insults.

“I have now changed my mind, I do not want a consensus. Let us meet at the ballot,” said Kenneth.

But Sonko said his only worry in the race is Governor Evans Kidero.

“My main opponent in the Nairobi race is Kidero not this other person (Peter Kenneth),” said Sonko.

The controversial senator said Jubilee was engaging in gambling by trying to impose a candidate who is not popular.

“The Opposition has already given Governor Kidero direct nomination, why should Jubilee gamble while it is clear who the people want?” he posed.

“It would be difficult for me to lose in a free and fair nomination process. It is up to the people to decide,” he added.

He claimed some senior officials at the party headquarters, among them Jubilee Party Vice Chairman David Murathe, were pushing for Kenneth’s candidature.

The latest exchanges have disorganised JP’s plans for a joint ticket between the two leaders.

The party believes that having the two run on a joint ticket would floor Kidero in the August 8 contest.

The Jubilee infighting is good news for Kidero. He said the confusion was a clear indication that the party had no plans for the county but was just interested in capturing the seat for political bragging.

“Opinion polls have consistently put me ahead of all of them. Even if they were to agree on a single candidate, it does not necessarily mean that people who would have voted one candidate would all be transferred,” said Kidero.

Worried of the vicious fights, Uhuru has offered to mediate between the two leaders. He said he can only act as an independent arbiter if the leaders formally invite him to help them reach a consensus but will not impose a candidate on the people of Nairobi.

In the 2013 polls, Jubilee’s Ferdinand Waititu lost to ODM’s Dr Kidero by polling 617,839 against 692,483.

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This was after a fallout in Jubilee that saw businessman Jimnah Mbaru defect after nominations and ran on Alliance Party of Kenya. He garnered 52,084 votes.

Stakes for the Nairobi seat are high that President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have declared their keen interest to ensure Jubilee take control of the city.

“Our wish is to have a Jubilee candidate to win the Nairobi seat. But I cannot say so and so should not run,” he said Uhuru in a recent interview.

Picking of Jubilee’s Nairobi election board on Thursday aborted after the two warring factions failed to agree on list to be presented to the party’s secretariat to handle the primaries.

Ms Wanjiru and Sonko accused Starehe MP Maina Kamanda of unilaterally picking names without engaging other party members.

Although only eight names were required, the two camps submitted 17 names for each.

“Kamanda’s politics in Nairobi ended a long time ago and he has no business trying to influence how people will elect their leaders,” said Wanjiru.

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