Protests as UDA postpones Nairobi elections, again

Delegates in the Nairobi county-level elections on Friday evening stormed United Democratic Alliance (UDA) headquarters on Ngong road following the postponement of the polls for the second time.

The delegates arrived at the party offices in buses and proceeded to chant slogans castigating the party for deferring the exercise again.

At the same time, candidates running for various positions, especially the county chairmanship, said the postponement has forced them to spend more resources in the exercise that has turned into a contest between those allied to President William Ruto versus politicians allied to his deputy Rigathi Gachagua.

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja is facing off with Embakasi North Member of Parliament Mr James Gakuya for the county chairmanship. Mr Gakuya is backed by Mr Gachagua.

UDA National Elections Board Chairman Antony Mwaura told the Nation that the exercise that was scheduled for Saturday was postponed following a court order.

In a notice to party members, the board cited “unavoidable circumstances’ as the reason for deferring the polls once more.

“The National Elections Board of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) hereby issues a notice of cancellation of County-level election in Nairobi County, which was scheduled to take place on the 22nd of June 2024, at the Bomas of Kenya,” said Mr Mwaura.

“We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Further information regarding the rescheduling of this election will be communicated in due course,” the party said.

Mr Sakaja has blamed his opponent for unnecessary litigation to delay the polls. The county governor told his opponent to be brave enough and face him at the ballot instead of running to the court.

He said it was becoming expensive to run for elections, citing meetings and retreats with delegates.

“It is very unfair and we are not happy with what is happening. Delay cannot be a tactic and those using the courts have to stop,” said Mr Sakaja.

“It is the opponent who has been trying to stop the elections by going to court. They will not get chairmanship in courts but at the ballot,” he said.

Following the initial postponement, both Mr Sakaja and Mr Gakuya took their respective delegates for retreats last week as part of their campaign strategy.

Gakuyaa-allied delegates had a meeting at Sweet Lake Resort in Naivasha for five days to lay down their strategies.

On the other hand, Governor Sakaja had a meeting with delegates in Maanzoni Lodge in Athi River, Machakos County.

Mr Sakaja said they have been forced to spend more resources on the campaigns, money which he said could have been used to strengthen the party.

In a previous interview, former Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga, who is in Gakuya’s camp, told Nation that the purpose of the retreat was to come up with a clear lineup ahead of the election.

“We have reached an agreement through our internal democratic process. We have picked the 20 members who we will all vote for. We just want to call on the National Election Board to call for election after we finish with the court process,” Ms Omanga said.

Mr Gakuya’s camp had claimed 248 delegates out of the total 340.

At the same time, Mr Sakaja’s camp is also exuding confidence that they have the numbers.

According to the pro-Sakaja delegates, the Nairobi governor has also already secured 300 votes.

“We just went to a retreat with my delegates, and the numbers will be revealed during the election. Talking numbers is a meaningless game because the votes will be counted,” Sakaja said.


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