As the clock strikes just before midnight at Karuri High School, where the count is running for the Kiambaa Parliamentary and Muguga Ward MCA by-elections, the competition has narrowed to a two-horse race.
In the Kiambaa MP race, UDA’s John Njuguna had a narrow lead over Kariri Njama of the Jubilee Party, while Jubilee’s Githinji Mungera had a narrow lead on UDA’s Kamau Thumbi in the Muguga Ward competition.
The mood in the main counting center was calm, with political party agents waiting patiently while IEBC staff counted the ballots.
Polling stations closed around 5 p.m. with Karuri High School being the main polling center where the results are likely to be announced by the polling station.
The polls opened early Thursday in Kiambaa MP and Muguga Ward MCA races in the Kiambu district.
Hundreds of residents made their way to various polling stations as early as 4 a.m. As of 6:30 am, long lines could be seen at various centers such as Karuri High School.
Eight parliamentary candidates are fighting to succeed Paul Koinange, who died in March. But the race has narrowed into a fierce battle between the Jubilee Party and the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), affiliated with Vice President William Ruto.
The candidates are: Kariri Njama (Jubilee Party), Joe Njuguna Wanjiku (UDA), Evans Gichia (Peoples Party of Kenya), Willie Mbugua (Independent), Koromo Muchugi (Federal Party Kenya), David Mugo (Independent), Wanjiru Muthaka ( PNU) and Njoroge Ngugi (TND party).
In Muguga Ward the candidate of the anniversary party Githinji Mungera meets the UDA candidate Kamau Thumbi.
The constituency of Kiambaa has 96,000 registered voters. Voting takes place in 154 polling stations, which are spread over 5 districts.
On Tuesday, rival campaign teams exchanged allegations of election fraud without producing evidence, creating tension over what was viewed as the first direct conflict between President Kenyatta, who met the jubilee candidates at the State House last week, and his rebel deputy.
The seat of the Kiambaa MP was vacated after Legislator Paul Koinange succumbed to complications from Covid-19 in March this year, while the seat of the Muguga community, also in Kiambu, became vacant after MCA Eliud Ngugi also succumbed to the coronavirus .
The outcome of the two mini-questions is widely viewed as a litmus test, not only for Jubilee, who seeks to combat perceptions of the rebellion of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s homeland, but also for the UDA party affiliated with DP William Ruto.