The Embu gubernatorial race is shaping up to be a three-horse race with no clear winner in sight. The incumbent, Martin Wambora, Senator Lenny Kivuti and Kithinji Kiragu have hit the campaign trail. It is, however, the Runyenjes MP Cecilly Mbarire’s backing of Kiragu that has complicated matters for both Wambora and Kivuti.
Analysts say Mbarire who lost to Wambora in Jubilee primaries is on a revenge mission with claims that she was rigged out during the shambolic Jubilee nominations. Already, the three have identified their running mates in the Embu gubernatorial race and as a matter of strategy, their respective deputies are from their opponents strongholds.
Mbarire lost in the Jubilee primaries to Governor Martin Wambora when she clinched 43,509 votes against his 60,634. Her supporters hailed Kiragu’s decision to decamp from Jubilee to Party of National Unity ahead of the primaries.
According to IEBC, Manyatta has 91,274 registered voters, Runyenjes, 83,943, Mbeere South, 72,057, and Mbeere North, 51,545. The Embu community is the most populous and covers Manyatta and Mbeere constituencies while the Mbeere are the second in number and covers Mbeere North and South constituencies.
Kivuti’s running mate for Embu gubernatorial race is former Manyatta MP Emilio Kathuri whose influence is hoped will bring votes from Manyatta constituency. Kivuti who comes from Mbeere can now count on the Mbeere South and North constituency votes as well as Manyatta.
Wambora has taken wins Sacco CEO David Kariuki as his running mate ostensibly to consolidate the Embu votes which is more than the Mbeere votes. It is, however, unfortunate that Wambora and his deputy hail from one community. The Mbeere’s in this case are not taken care of by the Wambora camp.
Kiragu who now enjoys the backing of Mbarire can count on Manyatta votes. He has named Elias Kathiga as his running mate. Kiragu is now being perceived as one of the key contenders and a heavyweight in the race after he decamped from the Jubilee party, a few days after registering with Sh100,000 as an aspirant for the governor’s position on the party’s ticket.
On his defection, Kiragu said his decision was informed by the chaos and thuggery that he had witnessed in the last three days during campaigns for elections of interim officials.
The renowned public sector management consultant said most of his competitors for the seat have resorted to using unorthodox ways to capture the party’s secretariat for the purpose of serving their selfish political interests.
“What I witnessed is a group of selfish leaders who incited their supporters to make the elections murky, chaotic, and thuggish and whose agenda is to capture the county’s JP officials to win the 2017 elections. They have neither the focus on JP goals nor the interests of the nation,” said Kiragu.
As Kiragu received Mbarire’s support, Kivuti’s bid to be the next governor of Embu county also received a major boost after elders from two communities in the county said he was the best candidate to replace Governor Wambora.
The Mbeere council of elders, Ngome council of elders and seven officials of the splinter Nyaangi council of elders have declared that Kivuti had initiated development during his tenure as a member of parliament.
Speaking at his Kanyuambora home in Mbeere North, the elders, numbering about 200, said they would support Kivuti’s bid to oust Wambora in the forthcoming elections.
He said there was a memorandum of understanding that charted a power sharing agreement between the Embu and the Mbeere communities.
“I have been consulting with the elders from Embu and Mbeere communities and they have pledged to support me. The result of the two consultations is that all Embu elders have asked me to serve as Embu governor. With humility, I have accepted to contest,” he declared.
Analysts say the race is so close to the extent that of the three candidates, it could go either way.