Why Kibaki’s decision to support Gichuki might flop

It is no longer secret that President Mwai Kibaki preferred candidate forOthaya parliamentary seat is Gichuki Mugambi. The president for the first time endorsed the Saba Saba Asili aspirant during his recent visit in the area.

It was the second leg of his tour in the constituency, which he has represented since 1974, to ostensibly inspect development projects.

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He asked the residents to vote in support of Gichuki owing to his education and experience. He said the residents need a person who would articulate their issues in and outside parliament.

The race to succeed him has attracted four aspirants but during the tour he was only accompanied by Mugambi. Indeed, it was reported that the president was caught off guard after his former long serving aide Esau Kioni showed up in one of the functions.

This forced the president to recognize his presence and asked him to greet the people. Kioni is also vying for the seat.

During Kibaki’s tour of development projects in Othaya, drama unfolded after the TNA parliamentary aspirant Mary Wambui was barred from accompanying him.

Then he fell short of endorsing Mugambi’s candidacy. Amid protests from her chief campaigners, Wambui was barred from attending at least two events; the commissioning of newly built Munyange police station and another function at Othaya Boys high school. Again, the youthful Saba Saba Asili nominee accompanied him.

The visit came days after intrigues that surrounded TNA nomination in area. Gichuki, who eyed the seat on a TNA ticket, was floored by Wambui during the hotly contested party primaries.

Notably, President Mwai Kibaki has served uninterrupted as the MP for Othaya since 1974. The new law does not stop him from reclaiming the seat but he has indicated he will not contest. But in keeping with the new constitution, Kibaki is not eligible for re election as the president.

Granted, the decision by the president to openly support Mugambi could jeopardize his chances of winning the seat. I have a number of reasons.

One, having lost in the primaries of the popular party in the area, he is seen as a spoiler.

Two, the move by the president might be interpreted as undemocratic and meant to usurp the power of people.  If voters buy this, he might face a rejection on account he is being imposed.

Three, previous experiences have shown that chances are slim for the candidates being fronted by the outgoing leaders.

Fourthly, the TNA candidates from the county and across the country have vowed to mobilize and rally support for Wambui.

So far, several rallies, caravans and road shows organized by TNA have been held. The leaders say the decision by the president was ill advised and an affront to the new constitution.

Kenyans have a right to elect leaders of their choice without undue influence and being coerced to do so. Besides, the jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru visited the county recently and urged the residents to vote a six-piece suit.

Still, efforts to bar Wambui on account of her integrity and academic qualification were thwarted after High Court ruled that it had no jurisdiction to handle the matter. The court ruled the power rested with IEBC.

During the rally held in Nyeri town, Uhuru took the opportunity to introduce Wambui as the party flag bearer for Othaya.

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