With just a few months away from the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) referendum, the upcoming by-elections are expected to mirror the referendum results. Ultimately, the By-elections will portray the country’s political state ahead of the 2022 general elections.
The scheduled By-elections include the Nairobi gubernatorial seat, Machakos senate position, and Matungu and Kabuchai parliamentary seats.
Who are the Bigwigs involved?
Kenya’s politicians who will gauge their influence through the by-elections include President Uhuru Kenyatta; his weeded deputy, William Ruto; and his newfound ally, Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
Other leaders who will also be sizing up themselves are Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya, and Alfred Mutua, who doubles up as Machakos Governor and party leader for Maendeleo Chap Chap.
The ‘hand-shake’ Union
The newly formed hand-shake union between President Uhuru and former Prime Minister Raila has significantly contributed to the estrangement of DP Ruto.
There are speculations that Uhuru’s Jubilee party will give the candidate for the Nairobi’s governor seat, while Raila’s ODM party will provide a candidate for the deputy governor’s seat.
Candidates for the other by-elections
In the Machakos senatorial race, the DP is expected to field Johnson Muthama, the former Machakos senator who has since fallen out with Kalonzo Musyoka. Alfred Mutua will field Mutua Katuku, a former minister. Lastly, Mr. Musyoka will field a candidate from the Wiper Party backed by Mr. Mudavadi, Mr. Musalia, and Mr. Odinga.
In Matungu, western Kenya, Mr. Odinga has ignored Mr. Musalia’s request not to field a candidate for the by-election. The ODM party leader has warned the ANC party leader to brace himself for a “bruising battle” for the Matungu parliamentary seat. However, Mr. Wetangula will not field any candidate for the Matungu seat.
Mr. Musalia has returned favor to Mr. Wetangula by not fielding a Kabuchai poll, Bungoma county.
In the recent Msambweni by-election, DP Ruto’s preferred candidate took the day. The results signaled shifting grounds in the constituency, which was formerly Raila Odinga’s backyard.
Celebrating Feisal Bader’s Msambweni win, the DP said that the results signified a new chapter for its politics. He added that it’s no longer about the connection one has to those in power but through hard work and commitment.
Effect on the BBI referendum
A loss for any of the candidates backed by BBI proponents spells doom for BBI.
Previously, Mr. Odinga – who was sure of a win in the Msambweni constituency- announced that a win in the constituency would guarantee the success of the BBI. On the contrary, tables turned on the former premier causing political shock waves across the country.
DP Ruto has outrightly criticized the BBI referendum saying that it should not be a simple yes or no vote. Instead, the DP proposes that each article on the BBI should be voted on separately. A win for Ruto’s preferred candidates will mean an imminent failure on the BBI referendum.