Kenya: Tight Races to Watch Tomorrow
Tomorrow’s General Election carries with it bitter and sweet surprises for many big names in Kenya’s political circles.
To some, it could mark the end of political careers while to others it will be a foundation to build a political dynasty, depending on which side of the NASA-Jubilee divide wins.
Apart from the tight race between President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is seeking to defend his seat for a second and last term, and his main rival Raila Odinga, who is making his fourth attempt for the top seat, there are several other races that will be keenly watched.
For the President and Deputy President William Ruto, this election means a lot. If they lose, they will go down in the history of Kenya’s presidential elections as having failed to recapture their seats.
The first two presidents, Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi, served for more than two terms each, while Mwai Kibaki went for 10 years after the Constitution limited the presidential tenure to two terms of five years each.
On Saturday, addressing their final rally in Nakuru, Uhuru pleaded with the electorate to give him a second term in office, saying he had delivered on his 2013 pledges.
He pointed out that while the country has witnessed unprecedented development in the last four-and-a-half years of his administration, Kenyans should expect even more transformational projects in the next five years once they give him a second chance.
For Raila, in case NASA loses the election, it could mark the end of a long political career spanning many decades, mostly spent on the opposition. And for his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, he may also have to contend with another five years out in the cold.
Raila’s win on the other hand will be a successful end to a political career that faced three ballot defeats. He was a presidential candidate in 1997, 2007 and 2013.
The fight for governorship, Senate, member of the National Assembly, Woman Representative and in some cases MCA will be an epic battle between independent candidates, those from affiliate parties and from rival parties.
In Nairobi county, a hot contest is expected in five areas. The main contest, which is followed keenly, is between outgoing Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko (JP) and incumbent Governor Evans Kidero of ODM.
The other contest to watch in Nairobi is that of Woman Representative, where incumbent Rachel Shebesh of Jubilee Party is facing off with ODM’s Esther Passaris. Fireworks are expected in the Starehe parliamentary seat as youthful politicians Boniface Mwangi (Ukweli Party), Steve Mbogo (ODM) and Charles Njagua of Jubilee compete.
In Embakasi East, controversial university student leader Babu Owino (ODM) will be facing off with Jubilee’s Francis Mureithi. In Ruaraka, the contest is between nominated senator Elizabeth Ongoro (ANC) and MP TJ Kajwang’, while in Lang’ata, Jubilee’s Nixon Korir will faceoff with 17 candidates affiliated to NASA.
If Korir emerges winner, he will be the first Kalenjin to win a seat in Nairobi.
The faceoff in Kiambu is between incumbent Governor William Kabogo (independent) and Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu. They competed for the JP ticket during the primaries. Waititu emerged the winner and Kabogo chose to run as an independent candidate.
The Thika Town parliamentary seat sees an epic competition between Alice Ng’ang’a and her main challenger, independent Patrick Wainaina.
In Murang’a, outgoing Senator Kembi Gitura, who is running on an independent ticket, faces stiff competition from former Jubilee MP Irungu Kang’ata. One of them will have to hang up his political boots for a while, depending on the outcome.
Kirinyaga witnesses the epic battle between iron women Martha Karua of Narc-Kenya and former Devolution CS Anne Waiguru (JP), competing for the governor seat.
In Rift Valley, the contests to watch are between incumbent Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and Zedekiah Bundotich (Buzeki). Mandago won the JP ticket but tycoon Buzeki stood as an independent. He refused pleas and promises of rewards to step down.
In the same county, the contest between outing Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkong’a and William Chepkut, an independent, will be worth following. Both ran for the JP ticket, Chepkut won, but the High Court ordered a rerun. Chepkong’a won the second round by less than 100 votes.
In the neighbouring county of Elgeyo Marakwet, the tight races to follow are between Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (JP) and former Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo (Kanu), as well as between Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen and former MP Jebii Kilimo, who lost the JP primary and is running as an independent.
West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo and his immediate neighbour Turkana Senator John Munyes are warming up to battle it out with their governors – Simeon Kachapin and Josephat Nanok, respectively.
In the South Rift, Bomet county is the epicentre of the contest between NASA co-principal and incumbent Governor Isaac Rutto (CCM) versus Jubilee’s Joyce Laboso.
For Rutto, if NASA wins and he loses his Bomet seat, he would still be a powerful politician as he is entitled to a powerful slot in the NASA Cabinet. But if NASA loses and he also loses, he will have to spend time in political oblivion.
The other race to watch in the same county is that for the senate Senate seat, where Kanu secretary general Nick Salat and Jubilee’s Christopher Langat will be facing off.
Belgut constituency in neighbouring Kericho county sees a contest between independent Erick Keter and JP’s Nelson Koech. Also to watch in the same county is Soin Sogowet constituency, where there is a tight competition between independent Kipsengeret Koross and outgoing MP Justus Kemei.
In Raila’s backyard of the Nyanza region, Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga is running against Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti.
In Kisumu, Governor Jack Ranguma is going all the way against Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, despite ODM requests that he steps down for the senator. Migori county will witness fireworks between Governor Okoth Obado (ODM) and Ochillo Ayacko (Independent).
In Siaya the contest is between Governor Cornel Rasanga (ODM) and former MP Nicholas Gumbo.
Governor Sospeter Ojaamong (ODM) in Busia and his main challenger and former deputy ODM vice chairman Paul Otuoma, an independent, is another poll to watch. In the same county, former Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba (LPK) battles for his seat against Raphael Wanjala of ODM.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (ODM deputy party leader) will faceoff with Senator Boni Khalwale (deputy party leader of FORD-Kenya) also from the NASA family.
Meru presents a case of allies-turned-foes as Senator Kiraitu Murungi plots to dislodge Governor Peter Munya.
In Kitui, incumbent Dr Julius Malombe faces opposition from Senator David Musila and former Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu, the fiercest political contest in Ukambani.
Machakos is also another county to watch as Governor Alfred Mutua of MCC will contest with his main challenger, Wavinya Ndeti of Wiper Democratic Movement.
Other prominent politicians whose political careers hang in the balance include Senate Majority leader Kindiki Kithure, his Minority counterpart Moses Wetang’ula and National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale.
Others are Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho versus Senator Hassan Omar, Malindi North MP Gideon Mung’aro (JP) seeking to dislodge Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, and Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu running as an independent to defend his seat against Thomas Mwadegu (ODM).
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