Jubilee Party suffered a setback after the nomination of its aspirant for Kibra by-election McDonald Mariga was turned down by the electoral body. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ruled that the footballer was not in the country’s voters’ register; a requirement for one to vie in an election.
Last evening IEBC Kibra Returning Officer Beatrice Muli told Mr Mariga that a search at the register did not find his name. He was advised to seek redress with the IEBC Disputes Resolution Board.
“Mine was to confirm that the aspirant meets requirements. I have verified and checked and I could not find his details. At this point, my hands are tied. We have invalidated Mariga’s nomination,” Ms Muli said.
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Jubilee now has an option of moving to the IEBC appeals tribunal to salvage Mariga’s attempt for a political seat. The party can only petition the High Court if it fails to get a favourable ruling from IEBC.
The decision to invalidate the nomination had been backed by a legal opinion from the polls body’s Directorate of Legal Affairs that advised her that an application for registration as a voter was not equivalent to being a registered voter.
In spite of pressure, the electoral agency stuck to its guns, even as Lang’ata MP Nixon Korir and former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale protested.
“So long as a Kenyan is qualified to vote or vie and has made that application to IEBC, the (commission) can take their time… one week, one year or 10 years, but that person cannot be denied his rights to vote or vie,” Mr Korir protested.
Deputy President William Ruto’s camp within the Jubilee Party had fronted the former football star’s candidature while that allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta rejected him from the onset.
The Uhuru camp kept off the process after they were informed that Mariga would not be cleared to contest, as he was not in the voters’ roll.
The Ruto camp was confident that Mariga would get the IEBC nod, insisting that an administrative issue was not enough to bar him from the race. It emerged that Mariga applied to be enlisted as a voter last August 26.
On the same day Mariga applied for registration in Kariakor, Starehe Constituency, the Jubilee Party wrote to IEBC, forwarding names of candidates who would participate in its primaries.
The party would, however, issue a statement disowning the list, prompting IEBC to write back seeking clarification. “IEBC received a letter, on Monday, August 26, at 5pm, forwarding the 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 fake,” IEBC said in a statement.
A few days later Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju issued a statement saying they had endorsed the names and would conduct an interview to pick a candidate.
The change of heart in the camp allied to Uhuru is said to have been informed by reports from IEBC that Mariga was not a registered voter.
“Those opposed to Mariga’s candidature were well aware of this issue and there was no need to make any further attempts to block his quest,” an insider in Jubilee told The Standard.
MPs Maina Kamanda (nominated) and Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), who are fierce critics of Dr Ruto within Jubilee, had come out to oppose the nomination but later kept off.
Yesterday, anti-riot police had been mobilised to the City County Engineer’s department on Ngong road, where IEBC cleared candidates.
While picking his nomination papers from Jubilee Party headquarters, only MPs allied to Ruto, including Mr Korir, Didmas Barasa (Kimilili), Caleb Kositany (Soy) and Gladys Shollei (Uasin Gishu Woman rep) accompanied him.
Most City MPs and MCAs did not join Mariga. Starehe’s Charles Njagua later joined the team for a campaign rally in Kibra.
Mariga was handed the nomination certificate by Mr Tuju at the party’s headquarters. “It is all about work now. We just want to meet our fans in Kibra then begin work,” Mariga said.
Neither Mariga nor the party officials directly addressed the allegations swirling of him not being a registered voter. They, instead, stated that the public would have answers after IEBC verification.
“You don’t have to be registered in the specific constituency where you are going to vie. That is a question only IEBC can answer. That is why we are presenting them papers – so they can verify,” stated Tuju.
“We know very clearly who qualifies as a registered voter. The reason why he will provide documentation to IEBC as he will today is for IEBC to verify that he is on the voters’ roll, that he has an identity card, that he is a Kenyan citizen and all those things,” Mrs Shollei said, adding: “It’s the purpose of presenting papers to IEBC. You will get clear confirmation from the electoral officers of IEBC when he presents his papers”.
The party officials and other party members stated that they were confident of Mariga’s clearance by IEBC and his subsequent win in the elections.
“We are happy that our competitors held peaceful nominations. That is where we want to take the politics of this country. We also call for peaceful campaigns, based on ideas, not based on tribe or intimidation. May the best candidate win,” said Mr Kositany, who is also Jubilee Secretary General.
Tuju reiterated Kositany’s call for peaceful elections and urged all candidates to accept that the elections would have winners and losers.
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