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Kethi fights to prove eligibility for race

Wiper Democratic Movement candidate for the Makueni Senatorial seat Kethi Kilonzo before the independent electoral and boundaries commission (IEBC) tribunal on July 05 2013. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL

Wiper Democratic Movement candidate for the Makueni Senatorial seat Kethi Kilonzo before the independent electoral and boundaries commission (IEBC) tribunal on July 05 2013. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By PAUL OGEMBA pogemba@ke.nationmedia.com
Posted  Friday, July 5  2013 at  23:30

IN SUMMARY

  • Cord and Jubilee renew rivalry over Makueni Senate race amid claims star lawyer is not a registered voter, but Mutula’s daughter fights back
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 Cord and Jubilee renewed their rivalries on Friday at a tribunal investigating the eligibility of Ms Kethi Kilonzo to contest the Makueni Senate seat.

The dispute revolves around whether Ms Kilonzo, who wants to succeed her father Mutula Kilonzo, who died on April 27, is a registered voter.

The tribunal will on Saturday check the master register to ascertain if she is a listed voter.

The decision was arrived at after a day-long stormy hearing, which exposed the behind-the-scenes political fights over Ms Kilonzo.

It emerged that the Jubilee coalition wooed Ms Kilonzo for the seat, but challenged her eligibility to contest the election when she chose Cord instead. She was cleared last week to run on a Wiper ticket.

It also emerged that Ms Kilonzo’s name was not in the register for Makueni County, and also not in the register for the whole country, but it could not be established if her name was in the Green Book — the primary register — which is what today’s sitting will seek to determine.

A former assistant minister and a member of the Jubilee Coalition exposed the fight for Ms Kilonzo between the two major coalitions, admitting that he was seeking to block Ms Kilonzo’s bid for the seat because she declined to join them and opted to contest through the Cord coalition.

Mrs Agnes Ndetei said that she tried several times to persuade Ms Kilonzo to vie on any of the Jubilee Coalition parties, but after she turned down the offer, she challenged her nomination, claiming she was not a validly registered voter.

Mrs Ndetei admitted that after the death of Kethi’s father Mutula Kilonzo, she visited Kethi’s mother twice to talk over the issue and also visited Ms Kilonzo’s house with a view to persuade her, but she declined.

“I went to see Kethi’s mother to persuade her to vie for the seat on a Jubilee ticket. I also visited Kethi’s house and waited for her for two hours, but did not meet her,” she said.

However, Ms Kilonzo’s answers to the allegations were straightforward and to the point. “I am a duly registered voter with a valid acknowledgment card issued to me by IEBC registration officers,” she said.

She said she registered in Karen at the NCC social hall and was issued with the acknowledgment card, which she presented to the Makueni County returning officer to get the nomination certificate. Mrs Ndetei said the Jubilee Coalition’s wish was for Ms Kilonzo to vie on a Narc Party ticket.

“After she refused and I heard that she was being sponsored by Wiper Democratic Party, I decided to stop her after realising that questions were being raised on whether she is registered as a voter,” she said.

The former Kibwezi MP, who vied unsuccessfully for the Makueni Women Representative seat admitted that she decided to challenge Kethi’s nomination on the advice of Jubilee Coalition’s secretary for legal affairs, Mr Jasper Mbiuki.

Another complainant, Mr John Kuria, was put to task to explain how he got Kethi’s documents despite being a resident of Naivasha. He said that he brought the complaint because his party, Peoples Party of Kenya, was also fielding a candidate in Makueni and that the candidate should not compete with someone who is allegedly not registered as a voter.

When Ms Kilonzo was asked how she registered without having her original identification documents, she said that it was the IEBC officials who can answer the questions since her concern was to be registered, which was duly accomplished.

She stated categorically that she would be seriously disappointed by the commission if it turns out she was not a registered voter.

“My duty as a Kenyan was to apply to be registered as a voter. It wasn’t my duty to verify if indeed I was registered or if my details were entered in the green book,” Ms Kilonzo said.

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