October 19th 2017

Opinion / Commentaries

Extension of primaries deadline opens floodgates for independent candidates

“The ballot paper will be crowded with independent candidates and they are likely to get unfair eyeballs and it is interesting to see how the IEBC arranges the names of the candidates on the ballot paper,” noted Esther Passaris an ODM women representative aspirant.

By Reuben Gitahigitahireuben@gmail.comMonday, 24 Apr 2017 12:17 EAT

As party nominations reach a crescendo this week, the political dynamics in the country are likely to change in Kenya for the better. As Jubilee and ODM primaries will trigger some fallouts, the number of independent candidates are likely to increase, and this time many more will be candidates with higher chances of winning.

Today's ruling by the High Court extending the deadline for the nominations will give parties even more leeway to tinker with the process, provoking the defection of aspirants who shall have been unfairly dismissed in the internal contests. Already, both ODM and Jubilee had pushed forward some primaries to Wednesday 26 April, the last day initially afforded by IEBC timelines.

The alarm bell were sounded when the Busia governor seat aspirant Paul Otuoma said that he will fight for the Busia governorship as an independent candidate. This is after the Orange Democratic party decided to push for a repeat poll in Teso North and South following a bungled primaries that many have christened as a “Tharaka Nithi re-enactment”.

According to the new election laws, parliamentary candidates do not have the prerogative to party hop to a new outfit but can legally run as independents provided they have proof of being supported by 1,000 supporters. MCA aspirants need the support of just 500 registered voters.

Candidates have a 90 days window to register as independent candidate and technically the deadline for registering as independent candidate is on May 8. Most aspirants who have flopped in the primaries are opting to run as independent candidates as the timeline for party resolution mechanism seem unattainable. It is against this backdrop that Dr Otuoma saw the need to run as an independent candidate.

Another casualty in the ODM primaries is renowned journalist Mohammed Ali or 'Jich Pevu'. Speaking to NTV's Larry Madowo On the Sunday Interview, Moha as he is popularly known, fell short of declaring that he would run as an independent candidate this is after being defeated by Ali Hassan Joho’s cousin in a bitterly fought Nyali primaries.

Currently the national assembly has four independent candidates. “The ballot paper will be crowded with independent candidates and they are likely to get unfair eyeballs and it is interesting to see how the IEBC arranges the names of the candidates on the ballot paper,” noted Esther Passaris an ODM women representative aspirant while speaking on NTV on Monday morning.

The writer is an experienced journalist, lecturer and researcher based in Nairobi





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