Azimio or OKA? Western region politicians are at a crossroads

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang'ula at the Maragoli Cultural Festival. December 26, 2021. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Several politicians from Western region are torn between supporting Azimio La Umoja movement and One Kenya Alliance (OKA).

Some leaders have been sending mixed signals about the path they are likely to take as political realignments happen across the country.

Some lawmakers allied to OKA have been seen in meetings with proponents of Azimio La Umoja movement in what political analysts believe could be tactful strategies to ensure they remain politically relevant.

Amani National Congress (ANC) MPs Oku Kaunya (Teso North), Ayub Savula (Lugari), Peter Nabulindo (Matungu) and Christopher Aseka (Khwisero) were among politicians from the region who attended a meeting at Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli’s rural home on December 26.

ODM chief Raila Odinga, who was flanked by his elder brother Oburu Oginga, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and some lawmakers from Western Kenya allied to him, was present.

Political analyst Martin Andati believes the politicians could be engaging in survival politics with the hope of retaining their seats or guaranteeing themselves a soft landing after next year’s General Election.

Aseka has, however, denied reports that he has been prevailed upon by Atwoli to back Raila’s presidential bid.

The lawmaker told The Standard that he was prepared to back ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi if he is serious about his presidential ambitions.

“Mine is to urge my party leader (Mudavadi) to consider working with Raila if at all he won’t be on the ballot. However, I will support his presidential quest in case he opts to go all the way to the tape,” said Aseka.

Nabulindo and Savula have not offered any explanation on why they decided to skip the Maragoli cultural festival at Mbale where Mudavadi and Wetang’ula were in attendance and opted to join Raila at Atwoli’s home.

Hamisi MP Charles Gimose (Ford Kenya) dumped Deputy President William Ruto recently and vowed to support Mudavadi’s presidential bid.

Gimose apologised for going astray and said he was happy to be back in Mudavadi’s fold once again.

Hamisi MP Charles Gimose. [Eric Lungai, Standard]

His critics however dismissed the gesture, saying the lawmaker had sensed defeat in the coming elections and decided to run to Mudavadi with the hope that he will help him retain his parliamentary seat.

In Bungoma, Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi (Ford Kenya) has ditched the lion party and now heads the newly formed DAP-K, which is associated with Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.

Wamunyinyi is confident that he will retain his parliamentary seat in the August 9 elections.

But political analyst Barrack Muluka argues that Wamunyinyi and DAP-K Secretary-General Eseli Simiyu could have a Herculean task winning their seats after they ditched Ford Kenya.

Muluka believes popularising DAP-K in Western Kenya alone would be an uphill task.

According to Muluka, politicians allied to Raila and DAP-K will have it rough winning elective seats in Western.

But Wamunyinyi said his new party is gaining momentum across Western and the outfit would give Ford Kenya and ANC a run for their money. Malava MP Malulu Injendi could have written history as a politician who has hopped between several parties in the recent past.

The lawmaker first abandoned Ruto and joined Raila’s ODM briefly before returning to Tanga Tanga. He later sought refuge in ANC.

He has now become a key ally of Mudavadi and has been urging his colleagues to rally behind the former deputy prime minister’s presidential bid.

Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa appeared to side with Raila when he scoffed at Mudavadi and allies for attempting to stop the former prime minister from visiting Kakamega.

“Mudavadi has indicated that he would like to lead this country, he cannot achieve that by sowing discord among communities. Raila is a national leader and has the right to visit any part of this country,” said Echesa, a close ally of Ruto.