UDA withdraws from Juja by-election, changes race arithmetic

Written By: KBC Correspondent

Withdrawal of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) from the Juja Parliamentary seat race has left the battlefield for two strong contenders.

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The race for the Parliamentary seat that fell vacant following the death of MP Francis Munyua alias Wakapee on February 22 is now expected to narrow down to a Jubilee candidate versus Moses Kuria’s People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) candidate.

UDA in a statement released by Secretary-General Veronica Maina on Monday indicated that the party will not field a candidate in Juja ahead of the May 18 by-elections.

The party linked to Deputy President William Ruto and his political allies had invited candidates running for the seat to apply for the party’s nomination.

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Three candidates including Eunice Wanjiru, a relative to former Ruiru Mayor William Mugo, Kenn Gachuma, a businessman who worked under the late MP as the CDF Chairman between 2013 and 2015 and businessman Zack Wang’ombe had submitted their applications and were gearing up for the party’s nominations.

The three candidates have been sent back to the drawing board after UDA’s unexpected withdrawal from the race. They have been forced to seek other parties’ nomination to sustain their pursuit for the Juja Parliamentary seat.

Eunice Wanjiru, commonly known as Wawilly Wamugo, has already secured The New Democrats (TND) ticket and believes she will cruise to the throne using the party that’s associated to former Nyeri gubernatorial seat candidate Thuo Mathenge.

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Gachuma and Wang’ombe are yet to make public their next move.

Even though UDA Sec-Gen Maina said that they had consulted the aspirants who had expressed interest in the party ticket before deciding to pull out of the race, Wanjiru divulged that the party didn’t reach out to them for their opinion.

Wanjiru who spoke to journalists in Juja said that the Party failed to consult them and has dealt them a huge blow and made them suffer huge financial losses.

UDA, even though it didn’t give reasons behind its withdrawal, is said to have pulled out of the race to avoid a direct competition between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.

But political pundits believe that Ruto’s machineries will still support another candidate, but behind the scenes, and most likely they will back Kuria’s candidate since he is a close ally to the DP.

On the other hand, some aspirants seeking Jubilee candidature in the party nominations set to be held on Saturday have raised alarm claiming that the primaries will be bungled in favor of one of the aspirants.

They claim that Jubilee Party has already settled on the departed MP Munyua’s widow Susan Njeri to be its flag bearer and that the primaries will not be free, fair and transparent.

They cited the proposal by Kiambu MP Jude Njomo to have Njeri succeed her late husband.

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Njomo who spoke in Wakapee’s burial in presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 2 proposed that Njeri be given the opportunity to complete the work that had been started by her late husband.

Businessman George Koimburi, one of the candidates who was seeking Jubilee’s ticket and a strong contender for the seat has already defected from Jubilee and will now shoot his shot at the seat on the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) ticket associated to Gatundu South Moses Kuria.

His defection has left the race for the Jubilee ticket to three contenders including Susan Njeri, former Kiambu County Education Executive Dr Joseph Kang’ethe and JKUAT Don Muiga Rugara who also doubles as the University’s Academic Staff Union (UASU) Chairman.

Koimburi told journalists said that his defection followed threats and intimidations from top political leaders within Kiambu County who have been pressuring him to step down in favor of Njeri.

The businessman noted that even after joining Kuria’s PEP, he is still being pressured to entirely withdraw from the race.

Koimburi claimed that the Jubilee house has been invaded by cartels and urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and clean up his house.

He however vowed not to cow to the threats and intimidations saying that he will fight for the seat to the end.

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Koimburi also warned other leaders within the region to stop interfering with Juja politics and instead give Juja residents their democratic space and right to vote in their leader of choice.

Political pundits however believe that even after the withdrawal of UDA from the race, DP Ruto will still have a say in Juja by-election and his allies are likely to support Moses Kuria’s candidate, Koimburi.

This will turn the by-election to a hotly contested race between the Jubilee-backed candidate and PEP’s candidate.

Koimburi contested for the seat against the late MP and settled on a distant second place with 10, 165 votes. The late MP clinched victory with 66,190 votes.

Muiga Rugara who’ll be contesting in the Jubilee Party primaries told journalists in Juja town on Tuesday said that he will only accept the primaries results if they will be conducted in a free and fair manner.

He also called on the party leadership to ensure that Juja residents are left to vote for the most competitive candidate to fly the Jubilee flag in the by-elections.

Other candidates who have expressed interest for the seat include James Kariuki who will be vying for the seat on an independent ticket, businessman Anthony Kirori and Moses Mwenda.

Gideon Moi’s Kenya African National Union (KANU) will also field Dorcas Wanjiru as its aspirant. She was the party’s flag bearer during the 2017 elections.

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