President Uhuru, DP Ruto 200 marathon rallies in 30 days
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have made at least 200 campaign stops in over 20 counties in the past 30 days. It has emerged that the constitutional requirement for the winning presidential candidate to secure a quarter of votes cast in a majority of counties (24), in addition to garnering 50 per cent plus one of the presidential vote, is informing the grueling campaign schedule for a contest that opinion polls suggest is still too close to call. The punishing diary has seen the President and his deputy poke holes into the Opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) campaigns, premised on claims that the Uhuru Kenyatta government has failed to tackle key challenges such as corruption, infrastructure and food security. Other than the NASA strongholds, the Jubilee arsenal has also been trained on its own ‘safe’ regions with the President seeking to consolidate votes that he garnered in 2013, and stem fears of voter apathy in his key support regions.
On June 21 during his visit to Murang’a, the President made more than 20 stops, similar to Nyeri County, key strongholds Jubilee hopes will give it a head-start against the Opposition juggernaut led by its candidate Raila Odinga.
In Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties, Uhuru made over 30 stops to address key concerns raised by residents. This was a day after he toured Nyeri County. Two days earlier, the Head of State toured Kiambu County, where he spent the whole day addressing residents at various stops. National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale told The Standard that Jubilee was keen on locking out NASA from key counties to deny it the 25 per cent in majority counties required to win a general election. “We are happy with the progress of our campaigns so far. So far, we have done close to 27 counties and we are expecting to cover more in the coming days. There are 46 days to the general election, and we want a peaceful election. We want to tell our competitors to ask for votes. This should not be a platform to sow seeds of discord and conflict,” said Mr Duale. He continued: “We are lucky to have an energetic president and his deputy who have been able to overcome the rigours of the campaign. The president is happy with the progress of the campaigns.” Among the counties that Jubilee intends to lock NASA out of, according to Duale, are Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River, Garissa and Isiolo, which although not vote rich individually, combined, form a huge vote basket. “The President will get over 700,000 votes in these counties,” said the Majority leader.
State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu, however, said the President’s diary could change “depending on what the campaign intends to achieve”. Mr Esipisu did not comment on the progress of the campaign. The Standard has learnt that Jubilee was planning to make another round of tours in the counties it has already traversed ahead of the poll, which pollsters have indicated would be closely contested between Uhuru and Mr Raila. An Infotrack poll released last week gave President Kenyatta 48 per cent of the total vote against Raila’s 43 per cent. Apart from roadside rallies, Jubilee has been dishing out goodies to voters, key examples being in Kisii and Nyamira counties where the government released Sh358 million to compensate 2007-08 post-election violence victims.
Uhuru has also used his tours to meet local leaders, most notably in Rift Valley where political duels between former allies have threatened the fortunes of the ruling party. During his tour of Uasin Gishu County, Eldoret State Lodge became a convenient meeting point for the President and his collaborators, as he sought to stem rebellion in the region.
The President is this week expected to campaign in Machakos and Kajiado counties, the latter considered a swing vote. He is expected in Machakos and Kajiado on Wednesday.