August 18th 2017

Top Stories / National

Majority tribes claim key county posts nationwide, burying negotiated democracy

Whereas in 2013 various tribes in ethnically diverse counties enjoyed ad hoc power sharing agreement, this time the dominant communities staked a clain on all the important county positions i.e. the governors, senator and women representatives.

By Priscillah Wanjirupwanjiru@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 09 May 2017 13:04 EAT

IEBC Chair Chebukati, IG Joseph Boinnet and NCIC Chair Kaparo.

Party primaries that are just concluding have raised tensions between dominant and minority groups in a number of counties in the country, with a reversal of fortunes for minority groups that enjoyed power-sharing for the ending electoral cycle. With political parties drawing bedrock support from certain ethnic communities, candidates of dominant party tickets in some areas are almost certainly guaranteed to win their seats in the general elections.

Whereas in 2013 various tribes in ethnically diverse counties enjoyed ad hoc power sharing agreement, this time the dominant communities staked a clain on all the important county positions i.e. the governors, senator and women representatives.

In Migori ODM nominations, the Luo tribe has taken over positions initially in the hands of the Kurias (the senate and women rep) in addition to the governor's post that the Luos held before. The senate seat went to Ben Oluoch Okello a journalist with radio Ramogi, while the women rep went to Dr Pamela Odhiambo.

Former senator Wilfred Machage (a Kuria) is running in Kuria West constituency, while women rep Dennitta Ghatti, one of the former champions of ODM in parliament, was defeated in nominations. The Luo voters were rebelling against negotiated democracy after the Kuria failed to honour their part of the bargain of voting for then CORD presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

In Elgeyo Marakwet County, Marakwet won all the seats including the senate, governor, and women rep. Leaders of Keiyo community have as well complained about the results and have announced their support for independent candidate. The incumbent governor Alex Tolgos won the Jubilee ticket to defend his seat, as did Senator Kipchumba Murkomen. Newcomer Jane Kiptoo won the woman representative nomination, an all-Marakwet cast.

In Busia, the Luhyas had initially won all the county seats in the ODM nominations, but the governor nomination was controversially issued by the party to incumbent Sospeter Ojaamong (a Teso). As in Migori, the Luhyas sought to punish the Teso community for voting for President Uhuru Kenyatta instead of Mr Odinga in 2013.

In Embu all top seats are likely to be held by Embus as the Jubilee Party has nominated Martin Wambora for governor, Njeru Nduiga for senator and Ms Jane Wanjuki for women rep. All are from the Embu tribe. The same situation obtained in the TNA nomination in the year 2013 but in the main election the voters in their own wisdom gave the senator's and other positions to the Alliance Party of Kenya, thereby balancing the ethnic equation.

This state of affairs will put the electioneering period under stress as some candidates from the marginalised groups try to stake positions by allying with non-mainstream leaders from the dominant tribes, which could be a recipe for violence.

Each of the counties in the summary above experienced varying degrees of election-related violence during the party nominations, and it behooves the IEBC, the police and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to find ways of ensuring a free electoral environment in August.

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