President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party is expected to square it out with Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria’s party, The People’s Empowerment Party (PEP), in the battle to replace the fallen Juja MP Francis Munyua Waititu aka Wakapee.
While Jubilee Party is set to conduct primaries to pick a candidate, Kuria’s party has already settled on politician and businessman George Koimburi, who came second in the 2017 Juja Constituency election.
The politician who decried a lack of democracy in the ruling party forcing him to decamp from Jubilee, held a meeting with MP Kuria on Sunday evening, March 14, and the two later announced that he would vie on PEP’s ticket.
“This evening I met the People’s Empowerment Party candidate for the forthcoming Juja by-election Hon George Koimburi. May God grant us victory so we carry forward the work that the late Hon Wakapee was doing,” said Gatundu South MP Kuria.
On the other hand, Koimburi said: “After much intimidation by the ruling party, we have decided to make a broad move to the People’s Empowerment Party. However, after consultations with our members [supporters] we appreciate your advice …we understand and take you seriously …karibuni tusonge mbele.”
Koimburi was until Sunday evening, March 14, considered as one of the serious contenders for the Jubilee ticket, having submitted his papers for consideration.
The announcement technically announces a duel between President Kenyatta and Kuria who have been at loggerheads over the latter’s criticism of his government’s development record and support for Deputy President William Ruto.
Two leaders fell out despite the President having cast his ballot for Kuria as his Gatundu South MP, a seat the Head of State previously held for two terms from 2002-2012.
The seat has attracted 14 aspirants where besides Jubilee and PEP, United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party — which is linked to DP Ruto– has drawn three candidates eyeing to run on its ticket.
The three UDA aspirants are Ken Gachuma, Moses Mwenda, and Eunice Wanjiru.
Among those gunning for the Jubilee ticket is the late MP’s widow Susan Njeri, businessmen Anthony Kirori and James Kariuki, former Kiambu Education minister Joseph Ng’ang’a and Muiga Rugara, a university lecturer while Dorcas Wanjiru Chege will be vying on former ruling party Kanu ticket.
The rest are independent aspirants among them 32-year-old medical doctor Joseph Gichui, who is the youngest in the crowded race.
Also running independently are Zack Nderitu, Moses Mwenda and James Marungo, a local businessman. Whoever captures the Jubilee ticket is expected to have a headstart, but again any of the candidates may spring a surprise.
The by-election is scheduled to take place on May 18. Juja is a semi-urban constituency and a rising cosmopolitan area with a population of 280,000 people. Despite its cosmopolitan nature, all the candidates in the race are from the predominant Kikuyu community.
Juja boasts of coffee plantations, quarries, a national university and has a thriving house market for Nairobi city workers looking to build or live in spacious houses.
Before the 2013 elections, Juja was split to form Thika Town and Ruiru constituencies.