It is all system go as six candidates cleared to contest Migori Senate by-election

Kennedy Makasembo is given back his documents by CRO Ms Ruth Kulundu after his candidature was rejected On August 11, 2018. (Caleb Kingwara, Standard)
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has cleared six candidates to battle it out for the Migori Senate seat after disqualifying one.

Kennedy Makasembo of Restore and Build Kenya party (RBK) was turned away on Friday after it was discovered that one of his proposers did not belong to his party.

Returning Officer Ruth Kulundu said the proposer for Mr Makasembo had been registered as an ODM member.

Ms Kulundu told the press that the disqualified aspirant also presented himself past the stipulated time of 4pm.

“According the IEBC rules am not allowed to clear anybody who arrives at the IEBC hall past the time, Makasembo was late by four minutes,” she said.

But in an interview after the exercise, Makasembo claimed that he was disqualified because he was a threat to some candidates.

Those cleared to battle it out for the seat are Jobando Peter Osieko (Green Congress Kenya), Mbogo Ochilo Ayacko (ODM), Ogola Dickson Ogola (Independent), Okech Eddy Gicheru (Federal Party Of Kenya), Otieno Samwel Otieno (Independent) and Rugaria Solomon Hodo of People Democratic Party.

Dropped out of the race

The seat felt vacant following the death of Senator and former radio journalist Ben Oluoch Okello.

Former Cabinet minister Dalmas Otieno dropped out of the race to take up a job as a commissioner to the Salaries Remuneration Commission.

As the campaigns kick off, all eyes will be on Migori Governor Okoth Obado who broke ranks with ODM after Mr Ayacko was given direct nomination, terming it dictatorial.

By last week, Mr Obado was said to have thrown his weight behind Mr Otieno.

A Kisumu based lawyer who hails from Migori County, Cleveland Ayayo believes the governor  will be a major factor in the by-elections and cautioned ODM against wishing him away.

"Whoever will get support from Obado will cause sleepless nights to the ODM candidate. It is a fact that Obado and Ayacko are enemies and the handshake they had in front of party leader Raila Odinga was a forced reconciliation," said Mr Ayayo.

He added: "It will be Obado vs ODM. If he decides to support Mr Hodo who is from Kuria, the plan will be to deny Ayacko, votes from two communities."

The Kuria and Luhya form a big percentage of voters in the county that borders Tanzania.

"ODM must not assume that with Otieno out of the race, Ayacko is all set for victory. Obado is smart and may pull a surprise. In 2013, he won the governor's seat on a little known party and survived an ODM onslaught for five years," said the lawyer.

Ayayo said the best ODM could do was to convince Obado to support Ayacko or remain neutral in the campaigns.

"If Obado succeeds in denying ODM the seat as he did in 2013, then the party will never be the same again in Southern Nyanza. He will change the landscape," he said.

Last week, ODM chairman John Mbadi declared that ODM was prepared to ensure Ayacko wins the seat.

Mr Mbadi said ODM remained a party of choice in Nyanza and exuded confidence that the candidate will win with a landslide. A campaign committee has already been formed and Ayacko has hit the ground running.

Among those expected to give the ODM candidate a run for his money is Eddy Oketch, who finished second in the 2017 elections.

Interestingly, he was among the aspirants who met Raila in Nairobi last week to declare that they would support Ayacko.

It is said he changed his mind soon after leaving the Raila press conference following pressure from supporters and family.  

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Migori raceIEBCRestore and Build Kenya party (RBK)Kennedy MakasemboReturning Officer Ruth KulunduOchilo AyackoDalmas Otieno