On #AntiCorruptionDay do not forget how then-fugitive Gideon Mbuvi (“Sonko”) came to Parliament in 2010

With the arrest of Nairobi Governor Gideon Mbuvi (“Sonko”) in Voi on charges of corruption and of fleeing charges and a jail sentence in Mombasa dating back to 1998, it is important to remember how Sonko came into national politics in Nairobi in the first place.

My only personal encounter with Sonko was when he showed up as MP and potential Senator-elect at the Milimani Law Courts in March 2013 when civil society leaders I was working with sought an injunction to stop the IEBC under Isaack Hassan from announcing Presidential election results after shutting down the Results Transmission System, which had allegedly unexpectedly failed (it has turned out the procurement was botched in the first place so the Results Transmission was not ever going to work).

Sonko entered politics and was elected as Member of Parliament from Nairobi’s Makadara Constituency in the by-election of September 20, 2010, as the nominee of the NARC-Kenya party led by Martha Karua, then MP for Gichuga.

Karua was appointed by President Kibaki as Minister of Justice in 2005 following the defeat of the “Wako Draft” constitution at referendum by the nascent Orange Democratic Movement, and reappointed by Kibaki in his original “half-Cabinet” of January 8, 2008 during the Post Election Violence period. Karua resigned as Justice Minister in April 2009 (being replaced by Mitula Kilonzo, father of current ODM Senator and Sonko defense attorney Mitula Kilonzo, Jr.) but one would think she and NARC-Kenya would have had resources to vet Sonko’s background if they were not familiar.

The by-election for Makadara was one of several occasioned by the courts upholding election fraud challenges against the Samuel Kivuitu led and internationally supported Election Commission of Kenya that also failed so obviously in the Presidential race.

As the Daily Nation explained in an article headlined “Makadara rivals bet on the slums” at the time Sonko originally had support of a faction within the ODM party before intervention of party leader Raila Odinga, then Prime Minister in Kibaki’s second administration (sometimes referred to as the “Government of National Unity”):

In Makadara, the roles were reversed in 2007 as ODM’s Reuben Ndolo was ousted by Mr Dick Wathika of PNU. Mr Ndolo also successfully challenged the results in court.

. . . .
The two main parties are seeking to boost their numbers in Parliament ahead of 2012.

The fight is about numbers, especially given that ODM will be seeking to turn the tables on PNU after losing a number of by-elections in the recent past,” Nairobi lawyer and political analyst John Mureithi Waiganjo said.

The party lost in Matuga at the Coast and South Mugirango in Kisii, seats it was expected to win.
Mr Waiganjo says the by-elections also come at a time when ODM, whose party leader Raila Odinga, is at the forefront in pushing for reforms ahead of 2012 elections, requires numbers in Parliament to effect the changes.
The lawyer named Mr Ndolo and Mr Wathika who were on the same side of the referendum campaigns, as the front runners for the seat. But Narc Kenya’s Gedion Mbuvi, popularly known as Mike Sonko, could spring a surprise. 
Mr Mbuvi, who intially sought the ODM ticket, has run a well-oiled, high-profile campaign that has excited many, especially youthful voters.
However, it is his alliance with Nairobi deputy mayor George Aladwa, the Kaloleni ODM councillor, that has been causing Mr Ndolo and the party sleepless nights. Although even PNU’s Wathika received a direct ticket, it is in ODM that the consequences of the nomination fallout are likely to be most felt. 
Mr Aladwa, who was said to have supported the deep-pocketed Mbuvi for the ODM ticket, has been leading a rebel faction which may seriously dent the party’s chances of victory.
Last week, party leader Odinga was forced to intervene in the matter.
At a meeting called by the Prime Minister, Mr Ndolo and Mr Aladwa pledged to bury the hatchet and work together to win the seat for the party. But there has been little evidence on the ground to show the two are back together. Even the joint rally they agreed to hold is yet to happen.
Mr Aladwa is popular among the Luhya, a significant section of voters in the constituency, and the tension between him and Mr Ndolo can only hurt the ODM candidate.
But Mr Ndolo believes that he has an upper hand after reconciling with Mr Dan Shikanda, a former soccer star, who contested the seat in 2007 on a Narc ticket and who could also influence the Luhya vote. Pundits believe that had Mr Shikanda not broken ranks with Mr Ndolo in 2007, ODM would easily have clinched the seat.

After winning the by-election by defeating both Ndolo of ODM and the PNU Party nominee Wathika on the ticket of PNU Coalition member NARC-Kenya, Sonko later left NARC-Kenya and joined PNU successor party Jubilee to successfully run for Senate in 2013 and then Governor in 2017. Karua ran separately for president as the NARC-Kenya nominee in 2013 and for Governor of Kirinyaga in 2017.

Hon. Karua has been a member of the International Advisory Council of the International Republican Institute (the organization I worked for in Kenya during the 2007 election) since 2015. The Council is a “select group of recognized leaders from around the world who share in our vision of democracy and freedom, and are willing to lend their names and counsel to this cause.”

Khalwale Re-takes His Seat in Ikolomani–Tribal and Presidential Implications?

“The Bull Fighter Dr. Bonny Khalwale gored his way to parliament after emerging victorious in the completed Ikolomani parliamentary by-election with provisional results indicating to have won by 13208 votes against his rival Benard Shinali 10702 and 293 votes for Kizito . . .” reports West FM.

Here is a Friday, May 30 editorial from West FM ahead of Monday’s vote, articulating a view of Luhya tribal interests in the by-election–well worth a read to appreciate a major strain of thought in Kenyan politics, even after the 2007-08 tragedy:

“The Ikolomani bye-election to determine whether the Luhya community has the self belief and courage to go for the presidency of Kenya in 2012

The new Constitution secures the right of all Constituencies in Kenya to receive equitable development regardless of which party the Constituency votes for.  The template of dangling development projects using tax payers’ resources as a bait for the electorate to vote for a party is unconstitutional and plain corruption and impunity.

The Ikolomani Constituency Bye-election to be held on 23/05/2011 is not about which of those competing candidates will or will not bring development to the Constituency.   Which development can whoever is elected deliver in the remaining twelve months before the next General Elections slated under the new Constitution for August 2012?  The Ikolomani Constituency Bye-election is being quietly watched for what its results will portend and give bearing as to how the 2012 Kibaki succession shapes up in the coming months.

.  .  .  .

A vote for the ODM Candidate will be a clear statement that Western Kenya is not interested in and has no confidence in itself to be a contender for the 2012 Presidential Race.  That will be as clear as daylight granted the ODM Presidential baton  for 2012 is irretrievably in the “safe” and hands of Hon. Raila Odinga and let nobody fool you that he will surrender it to anybody come rain come sunshine unless Hon. Raila leaves that party.

Yes the ODM vote will be the loudest confession by Western Kenya through the people of Ikolomani as a microcosm that the Luhya Community is happy and contended to play second, third or fourth fiddle going into the 2012 Presidential Race.

A vote for New Ford Kenya in the By-elections on the other hand will be the loudest statement that Western Kenya and the Luhya Community is in the race for the Presidency of Kenya in 2012 regardless of who will be its eventual flag bearer whether it be Hon. Musalia Mudavadi or Hon. Eugene Wamalwa.  A vote for New Ford Kenya will be the voice of the people of Western Kenya to their present crop of leaders that they must put their act together and present Western Kenya’s and the Luhya Community’s bid for the Presidency in 2012 just as the Kalenjin Community has Hon. William Ruto as representing their Presidential ambition and the Kikuyu Community has Hon. Martha Karua and Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kamba Community have Hon. Kalonzo Musyoka and the Luo Community has Hon. Raila Odinga.

The question at the moment is not whether or not Western Kenya’s Presidential contender will win or not in 2012 but that for Western Kenya to ever hope for the Presidency or anything else it must first be in the race or in the competition and put in an application for the job through a candidate.  And the people of Ikolomani Constituency know the name of the game through their colorful sport of bull fighting and where one cannot win a bull fight unless of course one has his bull in the contest, in the Arena, in Malinya Stadium.

The Ford People Candidate in the Ikolomani Constituency Bye-election is the only candidate whose candidature does not spill into the permutations of the 2012 Presidential Elections of Kenya and may be that one can say he should be judged without the blinkers of the 2012 Presidential race and therefore whether or not he has the ability to discharge the function of an MP.

Yes, all watchers of how the Presidential Race, jigsaw for 2012 will pan out are watching how Western Kenya’s dress rehearsal (through the Bye-election) of what role it will play, whether it will be a player or part of the cheering crowd, what political weight, value, price to assign Western Kenya in the political alliances, coalitions that will shape the 2012 Presidential Race.

The people of Ikolomani Constituency will on 23/05/2011 die the cast for Western Kenya and the Luhya Community as to whether the region has the ambition , gravitas and whether it will have its own veritable bull in Kenya’s 2012 Presidential Race or not.  In 1995 when Ikolomani Constituency held a similarly charged bye-election that Benjamin Magwaga won, it had the choice of the late Michael Wamalwa Kijana representing the Luhya Community’s urge for the Presidency on one side and President Moi on the other and the Ikolomani people chose President Moi. . . .

See the updated Wikipedia entry for quick analysis, and see Opalo’s Blog for the thoughts of a diaspora political science graduate student at Stanford.

Re-match in Ikolomani by-election Monday tests current state of Kenya’s politics (updated)

Party Office--New  Ford Kenya

Update–follow local coverage at West FM here.  With some exceptions, voting seems to have proceeded peacefully.

Monday’s by-election in Ikolomani, Western Province, will be a key test for both the election authorities and for law enforcement, as well as for future political stature in Western heading into the 2012 campaign.

“Security beefed up in Ikolomani”

Security officers have been directed to deal firmly with reported cases of bribery and voter intimidation as voters in Ikolomani pick their new MP on Monday.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) said voters in the constituency should be left to pick their next MP freely.

Commissioner Hamara Ibrahim Aden said it would be up to officers on the ground to ensure those involved in violence and voter bribery were arrested.

There will be two police officers deployed at each polling station during voting.
. . . .
ODM and New Ford Kenya have been involved in intense campaigns for the Ikolomani seat.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi pitched camp at the constituency to ensure the ODM candidate emerged the winner.

Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and Housing minister Soita Shitanda have been pushing for voters to re-elect Dr Khalwale.

A victory for the ODM candidate will be a big boost to Mr Mudavadi, who is trying to ward off competition from the Saboti MP for the region’s political supremacy.

Mr Wamalwa, who has declared he will vie for the presidency in the next general election, hopes to consolidate support in the region should Dr Khalwale be re-elected to complete his term.
. . . .
Presiding officers in Ikolomani have been equipped with laptops and mobile phones to transmit the results from respective polling stations after completing the tallying process.

Commissioner Aden said the officials had been trained on the use of the gadgets and no delays were expected in release of the results.
.  .  .  .
Dr Boni Khalwale was first elected to Parliament on a Narc ticket in 2002 and went in for a second term in 2007 on New Ford Kenya ticket.

But his term was cut short after the High Court nullified his election citing irregularities in the tallying of votes.

The petition was filed by Mr Shinali, who in the previous election, narrowly lost to Dr Khalwale.

In the meantime, the other big showdown, for the Kamukunji seat in Nairobi, has instead turned into a battle between the courts and the electoral commission. The IIEC acted wisely, in my opinion, in postponing the election to recognize a High Court injunction, although taking great umbrage at what the commission sees as interference with their prerogatives and in the face of encouragement from elected officials and party leaders to go ahead in spite of the court.

On Friday High Court judge Daniel Musinga temporarily halted the by-election scheduled for tomorrow until a petition filed by an aggrieved aspirant is heard and determined.

The applicant, Paul Waweru Mwangi of the National Vision Party challenged the legality of nominations conducted by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission and the returning officer Joseph Masindet on April 27 and 28.

Mr Mwangi complained that his nomination papers were rejected by the returning officer.

In his ruling Justice Musinga said the IIEC violated the aspirant’s constitutional right to be a candidate in the by-election.

From The Star, here is criticism of the Court decision from ODM, and here from NARC-Kenya.

Electronic Voting Reports Coming in from South Mugirango By-election

The Daily Nation story from Tom Otieno captures the flavor of elections in Kenya and is well worth a read.

Lots of interesting alliances, all keying up for the 2012 elections. The more things change, the more they stay the same–the focus is on who will be the next president which, in a way, means that the 2008 PEV “reform agenda” has failed (or was never attempted), regardless of what happens in the constitutional referendum on August 4.