Uhuru denies endorsing Kenneth in Nairobi governor race
President Uhuru Kenyatta has denied endorsing Jubilee Party Nairobi governor aspirant Peter Kenneth for the top city job.
In a statement, the party said that the Head of State had vowed to remain neutral.
“Our attention has been drawn to media reports suggesting that His Excellency the President, in his role as the leader of the Jubilee Party, has indicated support for a candidate in the Nairobi gubernatorial race. These reports are untrue,” the party said in a statement signed by Secretary General Raphael Tuju.
Mr Tuju went on: “The President has not endorsed any candidate, believing that Nairobi Jubilee members will make their choice in a free, fair and credible process at the nominations.”
President Kenyatta had on Saturday been accompanied by Mr Kenneth to the burial of Mzee William Gatuhi Murathe, the father of Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Murathe.
“We are saying that when the nominations come, it is you who will make the decision. Nobody should come here and use someone’s name to say they have been endorsed. Whoever you select will be the person we support,” said President Kenyatta at a stopover in Kirwara in Gatanga.
Mr Kenneth had represented the constituency till 2013 when he bid for the presidency and came a distant fourth.
“Na muhoere njamba ino yanyu nigetha Nairobi nayo igakihotana (You should also pray for your man here so that he wins in Nairobi),” the President said, to cheers from the crowds, who then demanded that Mr Kenneth be given the chance to speak.
Mr Kenneth in turn said that he would continue to fight for the ticket in Nairobi and asked the residents to support President Kenyatta.
“Nii ningurua Nairobi ni getha riria ndirigiukaga gucera mugakiona gavana wa Nairobi (I will fight in Nairobi, and then when I come to visit here you can see the governor of Nairobi),” Mr Kenneth said.
He is facing a tough battle for the Jubilee ticket against flamboyant Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko and former Starehe MP Bishop Margaret Wanjiru.
Efforts by the party to have the three reach a consensus have reportedly hit a snag, with both parties taking hardline stances.
The winner of the Jubilee ticket will battle it out with incumbent Evans Kidero who received a direct ticket to contest the seat from Raila Odinga’s ODM.
Meanwhile, Jubilee politicians have silently expressed concern over President Kenyatta-Governor Kidero renewed camaraderie that they said might tilt the scales in the county bosses’ favour.
Dr Kidero last week visited State House with the Mzee Gerald Gikonyo Kanyuira-led Rwatha Investment Group, just a few days after he held hands and laughed with the Head of State over golf at Muthaiga Golf Club.
That the two have been close friends is now in the public domain, with President Kenyatta asking Dr Kidero to speak at the golf function “so that people do not say I hate opposition governors.”