, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – The arithmetic in the race for the Nairobi gubernatorial position changed radically overnight on Wednesday with disqualification of one candidate and exit of another from the Orange Democratic Movement.
Bishop Margaret Wanjiru was knocked out of the race after queries were raised over her academic qualifications as former Nairobi Town Clerk Philip Kisia announced he had ditched ODM to contest the seat on a different party.
Kisia was due to name his new party later on Thursday.
The developments meant the ODM ticket was surely set to go to former Mumias Sugar Company CEO Evans Kidero.
At the TNA camp, investment banker and entrepreneur Jimnah Mbaru and outgoing Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu are pitted against each other in the battle for the governor’s ticket.
Mbaru has in the last couple of days been consolidating his stand in the race after three other aspirants dropped their bids to support him.
NCBDA Chairman Timothy Muriuki, Lee Muchiri and Chege Waweru are now campaigning for the businessman after dropping their interest in his favour.
There were unconfirmed reports that Mbaru’s camp was reaching out to Waititu for the two to strike a deal.
In Kakamega, a tough battle is expected in the United Democratic Forum as Housing Minister Soita Shitanda seeks the party’s ticket for governor against former Western PC Paul Olando.
“I would like to ask our supporters and those contesting to preach peace so that we can have a peaceful exercise considering that all other parties will be carrying out their nominations,” the ODM Kakamega County chairman David Malala said.
“We expect peace and that is why all candidates were here in the morning so they have all been equally briefed and we want to see fair play,” stated his UDF counterpart Moses Lumiti.
In Siaya, Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s brother Oburu Odinga will battle it out with William Oduol for ODM’s ticket to run for governor.
Oburu pulled out of the Senate race to avoid a potentially divisive duel with another close ally of the PM, Lands Minister James Orengo.
Meanwhile, anxiety gripped some parts of Kisumu as ballot materials had not arrived in some polling centres for the ODM exercise which was to kick off at 8am.
Aspirants and their agents were camped at the local police station waiting to escort the voting materials to the polling centres.
Poling centres for The National Alliance were to open slightly late for the nominations due to what officials termed as logistical problems.
TNA Secretary General Onyango Oloo told Capital FM News that the centres would open at 10 am and not 6am as had been planned. The official said the polling centres would remain open until 7pm to give supporters time to vote.
Oloo urged party members and supporters to be patient and cooperate with officials conducting the exercise.
He pointed out that ballot papers and other materials were yet to reach their destination because they left late.
In Mombasa, nominations for the Orange Democratic Movement started on time after most polling stations were opened at 7am.
A spot check at the densely populated Kisauni constituency showed that voters were already on the queue at their registered polling stations to vote for their preferred candidates.
Voters started turning up as early as 5.30am ready to cast their votes and before heading for their daily chores.
Another polling station with big crowds was the showground in Mkomani area of the newly created Nyali constituency.
ODM Secretary General Anyang Nyong’o has in the meantime appealed to the IEBC to extend the date for the submission of nominees and names for party lists by a week.
In a statement, Nyong’o stated that the results of the nomination exercise may not be known until the evening of January 18 at the earliest.
He pointed out that certain regions of Kenya have been in turmoil hence getting done with nominations in such areas may not be a very easy task.