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47 aspirants now cleared to run for President in August polls

Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu.
A record 47 Kenyans have been cleared to run for President as independent candidates in the August General Election, even as major political parties plot spirited fights against politicians going it alone.
If all of them go through the final hurdle and are cleared to contest by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), this could be Kenya’s longest presidential election ballot paper since multi-party elections in 1992.
They will face leading contenders Deputy President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party boss Raila Odinga and Safina flagbearer Jimi Wanjigi for the top job.
And it’s not just the presidential race that the number of independent candidates has shot up.
A total of 7,111 individuals are seeking to run as independents for various elective seats ahead of today’s deadline, according to a list by the Registrar of Political Parties seen by the Nation.
A breakdown of the numbers show that 104 individuals have been cleared to run for governor while another 141 are seeking to Senate seats as independent candidates. The 47 woman rep positions have attracted a total of 110 independent aspirants while the number of those gunning for the 290 parliamentary seats has hit 944. Another 5,765 have been cleared by the office to run for the 1,450 county assembly positions.
In 2017, IEBC cleared Japheth Kaluyu, Michael Wainaina and Joseph Nyagah to run for president as independent candidates.
In that election, the registrar cleared a total of 4,950 individuals but only 4,002 got the IEBC nod to feature in different ballots.
Declared war
As the number of independent candidates rise, the main political parties have declared war against their candidatures. President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party, Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) are among the parties that have vowed to lock out the hopefuls from eating into their strongholds.
However, some analysts see the drastic increase in the number of independent candidates as a major “indictment” on parties for conducting sham primaries.
The August 9 polls has also witnessed a drastic increase in the number of fringe parties fielding candidates. Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu revealed that, out of 82 parties cleared to participate in the polls, 80 have fielded candidates.
Ms Nderitu attributed the surge to the realisation by politicians that they can run as independent candidates even after losing in the primaries.
She said most of the people seeking an independent ticket did not participate in party nominations.
“The increase is mostly because of awareness as compared to previous polls. A majority of them did not participate in the party primaries; they started applying before the primaries,” said Ms Nderitu.
Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni and his UDA counterpart Veronica Maina yesterday said a majority of the independents will be crushed at the ballot while suggesting that they were genuinely defeated in the party primaries.
Mr Kioni declared that Jubilee will viciously campaign against them so as to ensure they do not penetrate the ruling outfit’s perceived backyard of Mt Kenya.
“We are not going to allow independent candidates to eat into our support base; we will campaign very viciously against them because they have basically defied the management of political parties in this country,” said Mr Kioni.
He claimed that a majority of the politicians did not want to be vetted or subjected to a competitive process.
“Their decision to run as independent shows they are defiant and do not want to be answerable to anybody. There will be more independent candidates running in the polls but very few are likely to make it,” he added.
He said the party will soon begin to educate voters on why they should not back independents as they cannot “push for any agenda in the house”.
Ms Maina said those who lost in credible nominations will still lose at the ballot.
“The surge in numbers does not say anything much about the primaries because in the nominations you have 10 people competing and only one winning.”
“The nine who lose, may still choose to lose in a different way at the ballot by running as independents,” she said.
She admitted that there may be genuine cases of irregularity but was quick to point out that a majority do not just want competition at the party level.
Mr Odinga recently labelled individuals who jump ship to run as independent after losing in primaries as selfish politicians.
“Some of them applied to run on political parties but when they are subjected to nominations and lose, they decide to run as independents. Why didn’t they declare their interests in vying as independents without participating in party nominations?” he posed.
ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said the increase was not purely because of the alleged irregularities in party primaries but a sign of growing democratic space and the realisation that there are options to the ballot.
“More and more people are becoming interested in politics. In fact, a bulk of the independents did not participate in any party primaries. So the surge has nothing to do with parties,” said Mr Sifuna.
But ODM chairperson John Mbadi said the record increase should serve as a wake-up call for major parties to respond to claims of irregularities in nominations.
Mr Mbadi said claims of manipulation could be directly linked to the increase.
ODM largely issued direct tickets but also experienced technology hiccups in the primaries that were paperless. UDA also witnessed cases of destruction of poll materials as well as delays in delivery in some of the electoral areas.
“I see a possibility of more independent MPs in the next Parliament; that will be an indictment on the major political parties. What is it that we are not doing right in party primaries?” Mr Mbadiposed.
The current National Assembly has a total of 13 independent MPs. ODM lost Kisumu East constituency to Shakeel Shabbir, who is defending his seat as an independent, as well as Nyali’s seat to Mohamed Ali, now in UDA.
Jubilee lost Ainabkoi seat to William Chepkut, who lost in its primaries, as well as Meru Woman Representative Kawira Mwangaza.
Other independent MPs are John Paul Mwirigi (MP Igembe South), Patrick Wainaina of Thika Town, Turbo’s Janet Sitienei, Suna West’s Peter Masara, Mwambu Mabonga (Bumula), Kathuri Murungi (South Imenti), Zadoc Ogutu (Bomachoge Borabu), Charles Kilonzo (Yatta), Patrick Musimba (Kibwezi West). –