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D-day as governors face off

Stakes are high ahead of the Council of Governors’ elections on Thursday, with three candidates expected to lock horns in the race for the influential post of the chairman.

On Wednesday evening, the 47 governors were locked in intense lobbying for the positions of chairman and vice-chairman, as they prepared for the elections to be held behind closed doors at Nairobi’s Hotel InterContinental.

Governors Peter Munya (Meru), Salim Mvurya (Kwale) and Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) are in the race to succeed Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto whose term expires on Thursday.

Another key position, although a co-opted one, is that of the CoG whip, which is currently held by Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka, who must also relinquish it.

The chairmen of the 18 committees will also be elected in the poll.

Besides being the spokesman for the 47 governors, a position which accords one unrivalled political clout across the country, the CoG chairman is also in charge of the council’s fund contributed to by the county governments and donor organisations and believed to run into hundreds of millions of shillings.

While in law the President is the one mandated to chair the Governors’ Summit that brings together the leaders of the National and County Governments, in practice, the CoG boss co-chairs the sessions with the Head of State.

DIVISIVE ELECTION

He also co-chairs the Intergovernmental Budget Executive Council headed by the Deputy President.

In an interview, Mr Lusaka said there were efforts to reach a consensus on who succeeds Mr Ruto, in order to avoid a divisive election.

“We are trying to go the consensus way. We are avoiding the ballot so that we remain united. We don’t want any bitterness,” said Mr Lusaka.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), whose two governors – Mr Mvurya and Mr Oparanya – are in the race, for the CoG chairmanship, said the party had no position on the matter and would accept any arrangement the council comes up with at the end of the event.

“We have not made any decision to support any of the three governors. We will allow the council to conduct itself in any manner it deems fit as long as the interest of the people of Kenya is well taken care off,” said ODM chairman John Mbadi.

The National Alliance (TNA), the largest party in the Jubilee coalition, also said it would not compel governors to take a particular position in the election.

“We have decided that since the governors have been operating as an independent group, it is important that we let them choose their leader as they so wish,” said TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja.

This story first appeared on the Daily Nation