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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Race for Nakuru top job hots up as intense rivalry plays out

JP’s Nakuru governor candidate Lee Kinyanjui /FAITH MUTEGI
JP’s Nakuru governor candidate Lee Kinyanjui /FAITH MUTEGI

A dramatic showdown looms in the Nakuru governor contest as intense rivalry plays out.

Jubilee’s Lee Kinyanjui, nominated Senator Paul Njoroge, a Kanu candidate, NASA’s Peter Koros, and independents John Mututho, Senator James Mungai and Isaiah Gichanga seek to outmatch one another’s strategies to rise to the coveted position.

Mututho and Kinyanjui are former MPs for Naivasha and Nakuru Town constituencies.

In the 2013, the two ran against outgoing Governor Kinuthia Mbugua. They lost in the TNA nominations.

They were later appointed to government positions — Mututho as Nacada chairman and Kinyanjui as NTSA chairman.

Njoroge ditched JP for Kanu, fearing nominations would not be free and fair.

Two-horse race

A Nakuru-based analyst says the battle is a two-horse race, pitting Kinyanjui against Koros.

Mbugua has dropped out of the race. This came after Jubilee sealed a deal to have him back Kinyanjui.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto held intense negotiations that were meant to consolidate support for the the Jubilee candidate.

Mbugua was running on an independent ticket after he lost in the JP primaries.

His presence on the ballot, given his incumbency, would have divided the Jubilee vote basket and almost handed victory to Koros, who is running on the Chama Cha Mashinani ticket.

CCM is a NASA affiliate. It is flying the alliance’s flag in the county.

The rival NASA and Jubilee teams are not leaving anything to chance. They are pulling all stops to ensure their flagbearer emerges tops on August 8.

Kinyanjui’s hurdles

Kinyanjui’s main hurdles will be how to woo minority communities that seem to be solidly behind Koros.

Given that Kenyan politics is also ethnic-based, this could also be a defining factor.

Kinyanjui is a Kikuyu and Koros is a Kalenjin. These are the major ethnic blocs in the county. Both communities are considered Jubilee supporters.

Minority ethnic groups such as the Luhyas, Luos and Kisiis are considered NASA supporters.

Political analyst Andrew Nyabuto on Saturday said Kinyanjui has to seek support in Nakuru West, Rongai and Kuresoi North constituencies to boost his chances.

The constituencies are dominated by non-Kikuyu voters.

“These are perceived NASA zones. Kinyanjui already has 30 per cent from those constituencies. If he seeks more support and adds to the votes from the other eight constituencies, he will have a landslide win,” he said.

Kinyajui will be hoping that those who voted for the incumbent during party nominations will back him.

But Nyabuto says having all Mbugua supporters behind Kinyanjui will be a tall order and he may need to work hard to achieve that fete or hope that Uhuru does the bidding for him.

Votes not transferable

“Votes are not transferable. People vote on political trends, indicators and according to the political party euphoria,” he said.

“When Uhuru comes for his last campaign in Nakuru and seeks support for Kinyanjui, party euphoria will be in the air and this may lure voters to his side.”

Koros, a former Bomet Finance CEC member, is capitalising on the presence of significant numbers of NASA supporters in the county.

Nyabuto says Koros’s inexperience in politics may be his undoing as he seeks to woo voters in Jubilee’s perceived constituencies.

“Koros is a greenhorn in politics. He has no political track record. There’s no comparison between him and Lee. Lee has political experience. He was an MP,” he said.

Nyabuto, however, adds that Koros is a force to reckon with.

Koros confident of victory

Koros dismisses political experience as something that does not count much in the contest.

He expressed confidence that he will defeat his rivals and become the county’s second governor.

“It does not matter whether I’m new in politics, but how I can deliver. People want change. With the political wave, I’m sure I will be the county boss after August 8.,” Koros said on Saturday. “I will work tirelessly and reclaim the county’s lost glory.”

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