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Monday, February 11, 2008

If you thought Election thievery was a nightmare, enter the nominations to Parliament

Major political parties are embroiled in internal wrangles over who to nominate to the Tenth Parliament. Factors like regional, tribal, religious and gender parity and poll pledges have made the exercise a major headache.

The limited number of nomination slots further complicates the problem. Parties entitled to nomination slots are ODM (six), Party of National Unity (PNU) (three), ODM-Kenya (two) and Kanu (one). Safina has, however, sued the Electoral Commission of Kenya, the Attorney General and ODM-Kenya after allegedly being denied a nomination slot. The party won five parliamentary seats in the elections.

ODM seems to have less of a headache as far as regional balancing is concerned. The party won seats in all the seven provinces save Central Province. In Eastern Province, where loyalty is divided between President Kibaki and his deputy, Kalonzo Musyoka, ODM got two parliamentary seats through Charity Ngilu’s Narc. All ODM Pentagon members, except Joseph Nyagah, won their parliamentary seats. But even with the majority seats in Parliament, there has been infighting in the Orange party over who should be nominated. Registered officials, Said Keittany (chairman), Mugambi Imanyara (vice-chairman) and Tony Njenga (secretary general) are said to have nominated themselves. They also "nominated" former Thika Mayor, Mumbi Ngaru, Nancy Abisai and Janet Ongera. Their list contradicts that of party Secretary General, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o.

Nyong’o’s list has former Eldama Ravine MP Musa Sirma, Nyagah, Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya Secretary General, Sheikh Muhammad Dor, Rachel Shebesh, Sofia Abdi and Millicent Adhiambo. Sirma has been among those campaigning for ODM in Rift Valley Province while Nyagah stood alone amid the hostile and pro-Kibaki Central and Eastern provinces. Nyagah risked and lost the Gachoka parliamentary seat to the Reverend Mutava Musyimi of PNU. Dor’s nomination would appease a section of Muslims, who under the National Muslim Leaders Forum (Namlef) played a significant role in ODM campaigns. Namlef had also signed a pre-election memorandum of understanding with ODM. To ensure gender balance, the party has nominated Shebesh from Kiambu, Abdi from North Eastern and Adhiambo from Nairobi.

PNU has a bigger headache, having lost many influential politicians. PNU also got most of its parliamentary seats in Central and Eastern provinces. In other provinces like North Eastern, Coast, Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza PNU affiliate parties — such as Kanu, Ford-People and New Ford-Kenya — have come in handy. And with only three nomination slots, PNU faces a delicate balancing act to ensure regional, religious and gender representation. PNU lost big names like former Vice-President, Moody Awori and former ministers Musikari Kombo, Mutahi Kagwe, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, Moses Akaranga, Maina Kamanda, David Mwiraria and Kipruto Kirwa. It also lost Simeon Nyachae, Raphael Tuju, Njeru Ndwiga, David Munyao, Dr Newton Kulundu, Mutua Katuku, Henry Obwocha, Morris Dzoro, Suleiman Shakombo, Prof Kivutha Kibwana and Njenga Karume.

Political analysts say PNU should nominate MPs from the regions where it performed dismally, such as Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces. Sources within PNU say there are about 10 names that have been fronted. These include Tuju, PNU campaign manager George Nyamweya and a woman from a marginalised area. The sources also indicated that PNU may nominate Sheikh Ahmed Msallam, a director with the Muslim World League. During the campaigns in last year’s General Election, President Kibaki tried to endear himself to Muslims.

Having won 14 parliamentary seats in last year’s General Election, Kanu, which is a PNU affiliate, has one nomination slot. The former ruling party had big casualties in several provinces. Gideon Moi from Rift Valley, Taib Ali Taib (Coast) and Marsden Madoka (Coast) failed to deliver. Taib and Gideon have been mentioned as possible nominees. Taib, who lost to ODM Pentagon member Najib Balala in Mvita, is a close ally of Uhuru. Gideon’s father, retired President Daniel Moi, campaigned vigorously for President Kibaki’s re-election. Others who have been mentioned include Justin Muturi and Nick Salat, who failed to retain their seats.

Unfortunately for PNU, ODM-Kenya’s numbers do not help in regional balancing since most of its MPs are from Ukambani. ODM-Kenya has to deal with the Muslim factor, gender and regional balancing. Although former MPs Joe Khamisi and Lucas Maitha may deserve a nomination, there is also the Muslim and the gender factor. The two have been ODM-Kenya point men at the Coast.

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