By Stephen Makabila
CORD leader Raila Odinga and his brigade will this week kick off campaigns in Bungoma County to help erstwhile Senator Moses Wetangula recapture the seat.
Although the official campaign period will start on Thursday, CORD and Amani coalitions have already hit the campaign trail.
Sources in CORD say they are taking the battle seriously, although Wetangula will be riding on the incumbency card and his rivals’ disjointed campaigns.
Amani leaders Musalia Mudavadi and former Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa have been pushing for the election of former Cabinet Minister Musikari Kombo, who successfully petitioned Wetangula’s election.
Journalist David Makali, who is running as an independent candidate, said: “ We are ready for the contest and I will be presenting my nomination papers on Friday. I am running on a platform of fresh, independent and untainted leadership ready to give the county practical ideas for socio-economic transformation.”
The three candidates — Wetangula, Kombo and Makali yesterday met the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) County Returning Officer to raise any issues they want dealt with by the commission. The county has been hit by insecurity in the recent past as unofficial campaign continued.
Raila’s entry into the CORD campaigns and the political capital he brings is expected to energise the campaigns. “CORD is headed for a landslide victory in the Bungoma by-election come December 19,” declared Raila yesterday.
So far, Wetangula has been conducting own campaigns, meeting leaders from Mt Elgon and other regions to drum up support for his bid. CORD is now emboldened by a High Court decree on Wednesday that Wetangula, the Ford-Kenya party leader and immediate former Senate Minority Leader, has a constitutional right to defend his seat.
CORD therefore enters the crucial official campaign stage knowing the Bungoma contest has a bearing on its strength as an official Opposition.
“The voters here remain convinced that they voted for the right party and the right candidate on March 4 and they are keen to prove what they did in March was not an accident,” Raila told The Standard on Sunday in an interview.
But Kombo noted: “What I did for the people of Bungoma from roads development, improvement of markets and establishment of a Medical Training College in Webuye can be seen and I am confident of victory.”
On Thursday, Raila accompanied by co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Wetangula will make a grand entry into the county to officially launch the coalition’s campaigns after presentation of Wetangula’s nomination Papers to the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission. That means there will be two parallel rallies in Bungoma on Thursday, since Kombo has equally planned another rally.
“I am deeply in Wetangula’s campaign even right now. I will be in Bungoma when Wetangula is presenting his papers on November 21 and after that, it will be a fully fledged CORD backing for Wetangula,” said Raila.
He was also optimistic that CORD will execute its campaign plans successfully to ensure that Wetangula remains its Minority Leader in the Senate.
He said: “Wetangula is our Leader of Minority. He has done a wonderful job and I am confident he will be more energised after
this by-election.” Raila asked the IEBC to conduct free and fair elections because: “It has a duty to do so and we expect nothing less.”