Kenya: Low voter turnout at UDA primaries in key Mt. Kenya region

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Tuesday, 19 April 2022 11:15, updated on Monday, 20 June 2022 11:38

Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto delivers a speech, at an event in Nairobi
Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto delivers a speech after being endorsed by delegates from Kenya's United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Party as their presidential candidate for the August elections, at an event in Nairobi, Kenya, March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The successful candidates from Kenya's United Democratic Alliance (UDA) primaries has wrapped up, with leader William Ruto set to hand over the names of those who will run for key positions in the upcoming 9 August general polls. But could the low voter turnout in the key Mt. Kenya region be an omen of the much anticipated presidential elections?

Ruto will handover the names of the candidates on 22 April to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). These are the people who will fly the UDA’s flag to seek top government posts such governors, senators, members of parliament, women representatives and ward representatives.

The National Elections board Chairman, Anthony Mwaura, says while the party is aware of challenges like claims of vote rigging, violence and logistics challenges in some UDA strongholds, the primaries were considered to be 99% successful.

Ruto has also come out to say he is satisfied with how the primaries were conducted.

But Mutahi Ngunyi, a political analyst, says Ruto should be worried with the low turnout of voters during the primaries in Mount Kenya (President Uhuru Kenyatta’s home region), since that could foreshadow the situation during the August elections. “Numbers do not lie,” he says.

Big name losers

The UDA primaries were largely held across the country and in the party’s strongholds on 14 April.

Ruto’s confidants that lost the primaries include Charles Keter, who had just resigned in February as energy minister to seek the UDA’s ticket for Kericho County Governorship.

Keter, who had gone to the primaries confidant of winning the ticket, was defeated by newcomer and little-known educationist Erick Mutai, who got 126,038 votes against veteran Keter who got 60,342 votes.

“Congratulations to all winners, I wish them all the best,” Keter said, after conceding defeat.

Other big names close to Ruto who lost include:

  • MP Caleb Kositany of Soy constituency;
  • Cate Waruguru Woman Representative for Laikipia county
  • MP Jayne Kihara of Naivasha constituency.

Waruguru who was vying for MP of East Laikipia constituency, says she did not lose fairly and is now considering other political options.

She lost to the incumbent MP Amin Deddy Mohamed who garnered 12,743 votes against Waruguru who only got 5,595 votes.

“I will issue a comprehensive statement on my next course of action after the Easter holiday,” she posted on her twitter account after the loss.

Surprise winner

The biggest surprise of the UDA Primaries that has left everyone talking is 24 year-old university graduate Linet Chepkorir also known as Toto, who beat her other nine rivals to win the ticket to vie for the Bomet women representative seat.

She won with 53,934 votes, while her runner-up Eunice Benson got 27,711.

While receiving the nomination certificate, a teary Linet said: “I will not disappoint you my people. I will not disappoint you women.” Her win is already inspiring some of her younger supporters.

“I’m so encouraged by her win, this is a win for young ladies like me,” Aivie Apetsi, a 25-year-old job seeker, tells The Africa Report. Although Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu does not support Ruto’s Presidency, she remains a big advocate of more women going into politics, and thus congratulated the young Linet on her win. “Congratulations Linet Chepkorir (Toto). An inspirational win to the girl child across the country,” she wrote on her twitter account.

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