Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party MPs have declared support for Migori County's Senate nominee Ochillo Ayacko and warned Governor Okoth Obado against campaigning for any another candidate.
Led by ODM chief whip and Director of Elections Junet Mohamed, the MPs threatened disciplinary action against any party leaders who opposed the decision.
"The party has settled on Ayacko as its nominee for the Senate seat. If you are an ardent supporter of ODM, an MCA or MP, kindly support our man," said Mr Mohamed, who is also the Suna East MP.
Speaking separately in Homa Bay County, ODM Director of Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi told Mr Obado to brace for strict party disciplinary action should he fail to abide by the decision.
"Obado is in ODM and not Jubilee or People's Democratic Party. But if he has switched political allegiance then let him declare it in public so that we know," the Ugunja MP said.
"We shall not tolerate or bear with you regardless of who you are if you dare to tear the party or campaign against it as resolved," he added.
The statements resonated with those made by ODM Chairman John Mbadi, who asked the electorate in Migori to rally behind the party's nominee.
The Suba MP told The Standard yesterday that they would lead "earthshaking" campaigns to make sure the ODM nominee won the October 8 by-election.
The Senate seat fell vacant following the death of Ben Oluoch last month.
Mr Mbadi said they needed Sh30 million to hold party primaries, which he claimed was too expensive and informed their decision to settle on Ayacko.
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"We had until August 3 to hand over our nominee to the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission). We also wanted to spare the people of Migori the volatile politics of labelling and spite," he added.
Mohamed told Obado to "respect the party rules and decision".
"Going against ODM's nominee is total defiance of ODM party leader Raila Odinga," he said.
He also told County Assembly Leader of Majority Melan Ogega to mobilise MCAs to support the party decision.
"We are going to take stern action against any MCA who runs against the party's will. You must be loyal to the party and king."
Mohamed rallied MPs Walter Owino (Awendo), Peter Masara (Suna West), Paul Abuor (Rongo) and Tom Odege (Nyatike) to support Ayacko.
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"We have made a decision as a party taking into account a number of diverse interests including and not limited to resource constraints, time bounds and loyalty," he said.
Owino, Abuor and Masara also declared support for Ayacko. Philip Makabongo, the ODM Migori branch chairman, said they would not back any other person for the seat.
"The party carried its independent polling and settled on Ayacko. We too did ours, which pointed to similar results. We shall support the ODM nominee," said Mr Makabongo.
Sources confided to The Standard that Ayacko was being preferred as a loyal candidate, having gone the extra mile to withdraw an election petition against Obado.
Party branch secretary Joseph Olala also backed the move, claiming some ODM leaders were not loyal to the party and should be disciplined.
Reports say Obado and former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno had a hand in the push for his appointment as an envoy.
The reports claimed there was a plot to push Ayacko out of Migori politics for fear that he would step up oversight roles that would cast the county leadership in bad light. But Ayacko rejected the job offer.
Former Migori speaker Gordon Ogolla, who was interested in the Senate seat, said he had chosen to support Ayacko.
"I have to respect what the party (has decided). I spoke to the party leader Raila Odinga even before I took the forms and assured him that I would uphold the party decision," said Mr Ogolla.
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But not everyone is happy with the party's handling of the matter.
Yesterday, a group of Migori County professionals in Eldoret rejected Ayacko's nomination, terming it a mockery of democracy.
“We have written to our party National Election Board (NEB) expressing our dissatisfaction with the direct nomination, which is against the level of our party democracy. We shall not sit down and watch the wishes and aspirations of our people being trampled on,” said Young Migori Scholars chairman Private Socrates.
“If the party does not rescind its unilateral decision, we shall move to court because we are seeking justice and democracy for the people of Migori,” Mr Socrates added.
Ray Raila, the group’s executive secretary, said: “The ground is already volatile and we are foreseeing a fallout if the party, through NEB, does not rescind its decision.
"ODM party should continue with its democratic ideals which it has been advocating for and desist from bullying its supporters and candidates.” [Additional reporting by Fred Kibor]
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