Former cabinet minister John Mutua Katuku had mounted a spirited campaign to capture the Machakos Senatorial seat in this week’s by-election, until his surprise withdrawal from the race Tuesday afternoon.
The withdrawal was culmination of series of consultative meetings between key Ukambani leaders including Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and her Machakos Counterpart Dr Alfred Mutua.
Mr Katuku of Maendeleo Chapchap was Governor Mutua’s candidate, widely viewed as his direct assault against Kalonzo’s political dominance in Ukambani politics.
According to Governor Ngilu, there was wide consultations involving State House mandarins before the announcement by Katuku.
Mr Katuku was promised a plum state appointment, for agreeing to step down.
The consultations were among Kamba leaders supporting the BBI process, to avoid splitting votes sympathetic to BBI, and give UDA candidate Urbanus Ngengele, associated with Deputy President William Ruto, a chance to snatch away “undeserved” victory.
“We prevailed upon Dr Mutua to withdraw his candidate because we are all supporting BBI, and in the broader interest of working closely towards President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2022 succession
The senate by-election in Machakos was billed as a contest between pro and anti BBI camps.
Katuku’s exit from the race leaves the battle between the Wiper party’s Agnes Kavindu Muthama and UDA’s Ngengele.
“Regarding Machakos, we believe our candidate has the best chance to clinch the Senate seat on Thursday, March 18, 2021. Maendeleo Chap Chap party supported the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and in the spirit of consistency, we support his development agenda and the political stability of the Nation,” said Governor Mutua said on Tuesday.
The announcement came hours after President Kenyatta issued a statement calling on friendly political parties in Machakos, to find a peaceful, amicable and uniting way forward during the upcoming by-elections.
In a virtual meeting with ODM leader Raila Odinga, Wiper’s Kalonzo, Governor Ngilu (Narc) and Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), President Kenyatta called stressed the need for unity in Ukambani.
“In this regard, so as to ensure that the National Unity Agenda succeeds, and that detractors such as extends goodwill to the President, to Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga and other BBI partners by withdrawing its candidature from the forthcoming by-election.” Dr Mutua said in a statement to newsrooms.
Kavindu enjoys the support of the Jubilee Party, Kanu, ODM, Ford Kenya, and ANC. She is widely expected to receive support from the Maendeleo Chap Chap party which has a close working relationship with Jubilee.
Ngengele, on his part, has the support of Kavindu’s former husband, Johnstone Muthama, and DP Ruto.
Other candidates contesting the seat are John Musingi (Muungano Party), Stanley Masai Muindi (Party of Economic Democracy), Edward Musembi Otto (Ford Asili) and Simeon Kioko Kitheka (Grand Dream Development Party).
Sebastian Nzau, Jonathan Maweu, and Francis Musembi are independent candidates.