Defeat in three by-elections puts to question CORD's support in Kisii
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga's CORD has now lost three by-elections in Kisii County, which observers say points to its waning influence in the region.
The coalition lost the Bonchari seat in the Monday by-election after its flag-bearers John Oyioka (ODM) and Wiper's Charles Onyancha garnered 6,977 and 5,171 votes respectively.
The seat was won by Zebedeo Opore, who got 10,947 votes. Opore belongs to Ford People, an affiliate of the Jubilee coalition. But why did CORD lose given that ODM, is the most dominant party in Nyanza? The coalition lost despite the principals Raila and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka's campaign for their candidates.
Leaders blame this on disagreements between Wiper and ODM, poor decisions by the coalition's leadership, shambolic nominations and discord among local officials. Mr Oyioka was given direct nomination by ODM, a fact that annoyed many.
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The coalition lost the Nyaribari Chache seat in a by-election last year after ODM's Chris Bichage was trounced by Ford People's Richard Tongi. In the Bomachoge Borabu by-election ODM's Peter Kimori lost to The National Alliance's (TNA) Joel Onyancha.
In the March 4th General Election last year, Zebedeo Opore of Ford People won the seat with 8,992 votes while Oyioka of Kanu emerged second with 8,987 votes, Charles Onyancha ODM, 6,897 and Albert Monyancha Wiper, 160 votes.
Political observers believe the fight for ODM ticket cost the party two by-elections in Gusii.
In Bonchari, ODM ditched Mr Onyancha and supported Mr Oyioka while Kisii Senator Chris Obure and Women Representative Sally Otara also changed their party loyalty.
The decision by ODM and Wiper to field candidates may have also been responsible for the loss. If ODM's Oyioka who garnered 6,977 votes and Wiper's Onyancha 5,171 votes had agreed to let one of them be the CORD flag bearer their 12,148 votes combined would have beat Opore who got 10,947.
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Officials said the coalition's affiliate parties have a memorandum of understanding that a strong party in a region is the only one to field a candidate in an election.
"From the look of things, ODM is popular than Wiper in Kisii going by the number of seats ODM won in the last General Election. Hence pacts are meant to be honoured not to be discarded," says lawyer Philemon Onchwangi.
Onyancha blamed ODM for the dismal performance and wondered why the party gave the ticket to a different person yet he was a devoted member. "ODM has messed up my life. The party abandoned me and went to Oyioka and told him to resign from Kanu. They promised him the party ticket and hid it from me," he said.
"It was wrong for ODM leader Raila to endorse Oyioka knowing I have been in the party for a long time. I'll never respect him again and I am in Wiper to stay. We are going to rethink the CORD leadership in future. ODM shouldn't run riot and want to field candidates everywhere," Onyancha said.
Oyioka decamped from Kanu and was given direct nomination by ODM, a move that angered Onyancha who accused the party of being undemocratic.
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Former Kenya National Union of Teachers Kisii branch chairman Geoffrey Mogire, who was the county's ODM co-ordinator in the last elections, says the party is still strong in the region and just needs to put its house in order.
Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang, who has been accused of benefiting from sham elections has come out to support the party's nominations. Mr Kajwang recommended that ODM appoints directors of elections in counties to be in charge of nominations.
ODM is facing a similar situation in the Mathare by-election slated for August 7. The party ticket was handed to Stephen Kariuki against the wish of other contenders. Lawyer Anthony Oluoch and Tom Alila, the Nyanza National Executive Committee member of the Football Kenya Federation have left the party.
Mr Alila will vie as an independent candidate while Mr Oluoch who contested for the seat in the March 4 General Election and garnered 8,000 will run on Ford Kenya ticket.
TNA Secretary General Onyango Oloo described ODM party as a 'house of fire' that is crumbling at a high speed. He said TNA is displacing ODM in their strongholds and that is why it is gaining ground in the country. "We have pushed ODM from Coast, Kisii and Western region, that is why their popularity has waned," he said.
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CORD By-election Raila Odinga