Two Ford-K faction leaders warm up to Raila, promise a new outfit

POLITICS |

Dr Eseli Simiyu (left) flanked by Wafula Wamunyinyi at the Mash Park Hotel, Nairobi. August 5, 2021. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A move by the Ford Kenya faction led by Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu to decamp from the party has set tongues wagging.

The announcement by Dr Eseli and Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi that they had decided to throw in the towel came as a surprise to followers and other political players from Western.

Both indicated they would unveil a new political outfit on December 14 after ditching Ford Kenya.

“It appears Senator Moses Wetang’ula is determined to get his way by hook or by crook. We have decided to leave him with the party and embark on a fresh journey. We urge our loyal members to remain calm because we shall be unveiling a new outfit soon,” Wamunyinyi told The Sunday Sunday on phone yesterday.

“It is a party that will not only offer expanded democratic space for Kenyans but also strive to unite the region ahead of 2022 and rally behind the Azimio la Umoja rallying call,” said Wamunyinyi.

Political commentators argue that the move could be part of a wide scheme by ODM chief Raila Odinga to penetrate and tighten his grip on the vote-rich Western bloc.

According to Barrack Muluka, a political analysist, Wamunyinyi and Eseli could be working together with the ODM leader. 

He warned Wamunyinyi and Eseli that they risk being rejected by voters by advancing the plan.

“Their new party will not fly and they could be just signing their political death warrant by pushing this agenda; they will find it hard to retain their seats,” he said.

Muluka said Ford Kenya and ANC were the parties to beat in Western. 

Leaders pushing Raila’s agenda in Western include Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, former minister Mukhisa Kituyi, governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Wilbur Ottichilo (Vihiga) and Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma).

Wamunyinyi confirmed that they would enter into an alliance with ODM and other like-minded parties.

“We shall not be going there to negotiate for our own interests but for the people we represent unlike the other leaders from this region busy pushing for their selfish interests everywhere they go,” he said.

“There is no big connection between us and Raila but we share the same aspirations and vision for Kenya. We want a peaceful, united country and that is why we are supporting the Azimio la Umoja,” said Wamunyinyi.

Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The leaders have indicated their new party which they fell short of naming would push for equitable distribution of resources. 

“We are not coming to cause divisions but seek unity of purpose in Western and among all Kenyans. We shall field candidates for all elective seats in 2022,” said Wamunyinyi.

Governor Oparanya dismissed ANC leader Musalia Muvadadi’s presidential bid, saying the former vice president lacked the capacity to mount a serious presidential campaign to win.

According to Oparanya, Raila commands huge support in his traditional strongholds, including Western.

“We are not looking for a regional president, it is not enough for him (Mudavadi) to campaign in Kakamega, Vihiga and Bungoma and expect to win,” said Oparanya.

ODM has been courting the two leaders as a strategy to penetrate and shore up numbers in Bungoma County where the party has performed dismally in past elections.

In 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta garnered 63,191 votes in Kakamega up from the 12,469 he got in 2013. Raila got 481,118 votes, up from the 303,120 of 2013.

In Bungoma, ODM did not win any parliamentary seat as Ford Kenya, Jubilee and ANC shared all positions.

ANC legislators from Western have warned Mudavadi against working with both Raila and Deputy President William Ruto.

Lugari MP Ayub Savula said Mudavadi should not dare enter into a political arrangement with Ruto “because we will not be part of such arrangement”.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said Mudavadi should ignore Raila’s overtures and soldier on.

Yesterday, Eseli said they had opted to chart a different political path away from Ford Kenya.

“I must warn Wetang’ula that whatever he has been doing in Ford Kenya will catch up with him at some point,” he said.

Wrangles rocked Ford Kenya around August 2020 when disgruntled party leaders began to push for re-organisation of the party.

The squabbling between the two factions had threatened to be a make-or-break for party leader Wetangu’la who was at risk of being toppled.

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