President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto faced silent protests from disgruntled voters and aspirants in Nyandarua and Laikipia counties during their visit on Friday.
Supporters of aspirants who were floored in the recent Jubilee Party nominations turned up carrying posters and placards of their preferred candidates who will now be vying as independents.
While Mr Ruto insisted on a six-piece voting pattern for Jubilee candidates, the President steered clear of the subject and was evidently reluctant to even endorse the Jubilee candidates.
Mr Ruto asked voters to give the President a supportive Jubilee team.
“For us to push our agenda, I ask you to elect Jubilee leaders. By doing that you will help the party push its agenda for the country,” he appealed.
The DP was left to introduce some of the Jubilee nominees for the various seats as the President focused on appealing for votes from residents in the two counties and tearing into his main opponent Raila Odinga whom he dismissed as a failure who lacks an agenda for the country.
Jubilee nominees from Nyandarua, Laikipia and Nakuru counties joined the tour.
Independent candidates also joined the President’s entourage and he was seen greeting some of them.
In silent protests, supporters of the losers displayed political banners and posters of their preferred candidates, forcing the DP to appeal to them to put down the posters to allow the two principals address them.
In Ol Kalou in Nyandarua County, hundreds of residents carried Wanjiku Muhia’s banners, while in Laikipia the voters displayed Nderitu Mureithi’s banners.
At various stops in both counties, sections of the crowds were heard shouting that they wanted both Jubilee and independent candidates allowed to conduct their campaigns without external interference.
In Nyahururu town, Mr Ruto made frantic appeals to the crowds to put down the posters supporting the independent candidates to no avail.
“Waangwana, nawaambia muweke hio vitu chini ili raisi atuongeleshe, tumesikia malalamiko yenu (good people, I am requesting you to drop those things so that the President can address you. We have heard you).”
All through, President Kenyatta remained calm, seemingly enjoying the drama.
In Subukia, however, he publicly acknowledged the outgoing MP Nelson Gaichuhie who lost in the party primaries for accepting the people’s wish and remaining in the party even after losing.
While Mr Ruto paraded the Jubilee nominees in Nyandarua, Laikipia and Nakuru counties and invited them to address the people while asking voters to vote for them in August elections, President Kenyatta maintained that he was ready to work with those elected by the voters.
“I promised not to interfere with party primaries, and you did not see me there. I am not here to interfere with your in-house issues,” said President Kenyatta.
Steering away from the Jubilee versus independent candidates’ debate, the President asked the voters to turn out in large numbers at the polls so that Nasa is defeated in the first round.
Earlier before the visit, a section of Nyahururu town residents had asked the President not to endorse Jubilee Party aspirants during his tour.
The residents urged the President to give both Jubilee Party ticket holders and those running as independent candidates an equal chance to seek votes.
In Nyeri county, another team of Jubilee campaigners were also heckled by irate youths when they advanced the six-piece voting system.
The Jubilee team was led by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and included aspiring governor aspirant Wahome Gakuru, Rahab Mukami (Women Rep) and MP aspirants Gichuki Mugambi (Othaya), Gathiaka Kiai (Mukurweini), Mwangi Gichuhi (Tetu), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira) and Wambugu Ngunjiri (Nyeri Town).
The convoy faced open hostilities in Karatina, Othaya and Nyeri towns after groups of young men armed with placards reading “Independents” shouted at the politicians and attempted to disrupt the meetings.
“We will not allow leaders to be imposed on us. Let them campaign for President only but not for other seats because we want freedom of choice,” chanted the youths in Othaya town.
Stories by Waikwa Maina, Steve Njuguna and Joseph Wangui