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Kenya’s ruling party makes gubernatorial gains, captures Nairobi City

Nairobi County Governor-elect Sonko (left) celebrates with Uhuru Kenyatta moments before he was declared winner of the 2017 Presidential Election.

Nairobi, Kenya | AFP |  Kenya’s general elections on August 8 saw President Uhuru Kenyatta re-elected, while his Jubilee Party and its allies also made big gains at the county level, resetting the political balance.

– Jubilee gains, NASA losses –

Jubilee and allied candidates won 27 of the 47 county governor seats available, seizing a majority from the opposition. Among those that switched hands was the coveted governorship of Nairobi, a city run by the opposition for the last four years.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition and its allies won 17 counties while independents took the remaining two.

The post of governor was only introduced at the last election, in 2013, as part of a process of decentralisation under the new constitution passed three years earlier.

In that election, opposition parties took 28 governorships, with Jubilee and its allies winning the remaining 19.

– New and old city bosses –

In a maverick move that paid off, the ruling party this year chose populist Mike Sonko as its candidate for Nairobi’s gubernatorial poll, a controversial politician who has spent time in jail and has had to deny allegations of illegal activities, including drug trafficking.

His opponent, outgoing governor Evans Kidero, has challenged the result as have 19 other losers.

The opposition handily retained control of the port of Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city, with Hassan Joho being re-elected.

It also maintained its dominance in western strongholds, including Kisumu where Peter Anyang Nyong’o — confidant to opposition leader Raila Odinga and father of Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o — won the vote.

Apart from Nairobi, Jubilee also took four counties from the opposition in northeast Kenya, a historically marginalised region with a large Muslim population that the government courted with infrastructure projects and a Ramadan public holiday during its first term.

The ruling party also held onto its Rift Valley strongholds.

– Winning women –

In a historic first, women were elected governors in three counties, challenging Kenya’s deep-rooted gender inequalities.

Jubilee also strengthened its position as the most important party in the Senate — where it now has an absolute majority — and in the National Assembly.

 

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