Jubilee Senator ditches Uhuru party, to vie as independent candidate
Tuesday May 2 2017
Senate Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura has ditched the Jubilee Party barely a week after he was trounced by Kiharu MP Irungu Kang’ata.
Mr Gitura has announced that he will vie as an independent candidate to defend his seat in the August General Election.
In a telephone interview, he said he had dropped an appeal he had made to the party’s tribunal.
“I know the votes were stolen but the party is taking too long to resolve the complaints. I cannot wait for their ruling,” he said.
Mr Kang’ata clinched the Jubilee Party ticket in the Senate race, garnering 158,167 votes against Mr Gitura’s 146,207.
But Mr Gitura rejected the results and petitioned the party to conduct fresh elections in Mathioya and Kiharu constituencies.
“I’m not [asking] for a recount but fresh elections. Maybe it is my anti-corruption crusade that cost me my seat, but I will not relent,” he had said.
Mr Gitura is among the leaders President Kenyatta had picked to lead his re-election campaign but was beaten in the nominations.
Mr Gitura said that while the party had failed to deliver credible nominations, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) would ensure free and fair elections in the August polls.
“There was multiple voting in various polling stations but I am sure that we will not see a repeat of the same. We have a credible electoral body,” he said.
His decision has elicited mixed reactions from Murang’a residents.
In Kiharu constituency, where he had served as an MP for 10 years, residents opposed the move while others supported it.
Simon Kinyua viewed it as a betrayal to the President as the senator is seen as his confidante.
“He should wait for the party’s resolution before leaving the party,” he noted.
But Regina Wanjiru supported the move, saying it was a chance for Mr Gitura to launch an aggressive campaign.
Mr Kang’ata denied rigging claims, maintaining that he had won honestly.
“I don’t have the machinery to ferry people to vote. The voters compared my development record as an MP and gave me the chance to be their next senator,” he said.
Mr Kang’ata will face off with Mr Gitura in the General Election.