NAIROBI, Kenya, August 27 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has confirmed it received a letter from the Jubilee Party with names of nominees for the Kibra parliamentary seat, among them footballer MacDonald Mariga.
The letter dated August 26, and addressed to IEBC was signed by the party’s Secretary-General Raphael Tuju, but was disowned soon after on Jubilee’s official Twitter handle as soon as it went viral and stories published by media houses.
His name was listed alongside Morris Peter Kinyanjui, Mukinyingi Walter Trenk, Said Ibrahim and Doreen Nangame Khayanga Wasike—all keen to replace Ken Okoth who succumbed to cancer in July.
A senior Jubilee Party official confirmed to Capital FM News that the letter to IEBC was authentic but was unwilling to be quoted or explain why the party disowned it on social media.
And on Tuesday, the controversy deepened when IEBC confirmed receiving the letter and wrote to Jubilee Party seeking clarity.
“IEBC received a letter, on Monday 26th August 2019 at 5pm, forwarding names of aspirants of Jubilee Party for the Kibra by-election. However, it has come to the attention of the Commission that Jubilee Party has denied authoring the said letter and termed it as fake. Consequently, the Commission has written to the party forwarding a copy of the letter for the party’s information and further action,” reads the statement by IEBC.
Mariga could not be reached for comment
If he sails through the nomination stage, Mariga will face off the Raila Odinga-led Orange Democratic Movement candidate, set to be known during this Saturday’s primaries.
Others fighting for the ruling party’s nomination slot includes Said Ibrahim, Peter Kinyanjui, Walter Trenk and Doreen Wasike, the only lady contestant.
Political pundits say the move is set to ruffle feathers within ODM and put to test the dalliance the two parties share following last year’s March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
The decision by Jubilee to field a candidate in Kibra has shocked many coming after previous declarations by Tuju that the party will not contest in areas perceived to be stronghold regions for ODM.
“Following consultations within the party leadership with respect to Kibra constituency, we would like to communicate to our membership that the Jubilee Party will be fielding a candidate in the forthcoming Kibra Constituency by-election,” Tuju said in a statement to newsrooms on Monday.
Tuju said the decision was arrived at following wide consultations within the rank and file of the party, a verdict that is set to ruffle feathers with ODM and put to test the dalliance the two parties share following the March 9, 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
“Our analysis and consultations confirm that our Jubilee Party is competitive enough in the forthcoming political contest,” Tuju said.
It was after the handshake last year that the Jubilee Party in the first mini-poll after the 2017 General Election – Kitui West parliamentary election- declared that it will not field a candidate in the race that saw Wiper Party’s Edith Nyenze declared the winner.
Tuju was quoted at the time saying the decision was based “in the spirit of the handshake”.
Months later in July last year, the Jubilee Party also announced that it would not be fronting a candidate in the Migori Senatorial mini poll in a race that saw Senator Ochilo Ayacko win.
This had become a trend where the Raila Odinga-led outfit welcomed warmly with the outfit vowing to reciprocate the same in future by-elections in areas perceived to be Jubilee strongholds.
In the Embakasi South mini-poll, the Jubilee Party also decided to keep off the affair despite a Jubilee candidate – Samwel Malaki who later vied as an independent- being dismissed by the party.
ODM’s devotion to the pact was later put to test in April this year in the Wajir West parliamentary election after it opted not to field a candidate albeit circumstantial after its initial candidate Ahmed Kolosh decamped from ODM and subsequently declared winner.
Jubilee Party’s announcement is set to mark the beginning of a tough political duel, with the race touted as a curtain-raiser to the 2022 presidential contest between Deputy President William Ruto who is keen to succeed his boss and the ODM leader who is likely to have a fifth stab at the presidency after losing out 1997, 2002, 2007 and in 2017.