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Msambweni by-election defeat still haunts Raila

By Patrick Beja | November 21st 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga address residents of Ukunda in Kwale County on November 16, 2021. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Ghosts of the December 15, 2020 defeat in the Msambweni by-election appear to be still haunting the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) at the Coast, barely nine months to the 2022 elections.

In his three-day tour of the Coast, ODM leader Raila Odinga repeatedly made reference to the defeat as he implored party aspirants to stick with him even if they lose in the nomination.

On Tuesday, Raila told ODM aspirants in Kwale that the Msambweni defeat was very painful to him because "it was our people who defected to the other side to win against us".

Independent candidate, Feisal Bader, a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto, defeated ODM's Omar Boga despite the orange party's and Kieleweke wing of Jubilee's spirited campaigns.

Aware of the rising tension in ODM at the Coast party nomination, Raila assured the aspirants that those who lose would be accommodated in his government.

Raila's worry in Coast appears to have been aggravated by Ruto's increased foray into a region that overwhelmingly voted for ODM in the 2017 polls.

Raila and Ruto have struck similar approaches in their efforts to grab the 1.7 million votes. They trail each other in their campaigns to specific areas targeting certain segments of the voters.

This week, Raila toured Lamu barely two weeks after Ruto held rallies in the same county. Lamu has 69,774 votes, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Lamu is significant to Raila because of the huge number of Kikuyu votes in the Mpeketoni area. In the 2017 elections, Jubilee won all but the Lamu West seat, which went to Maendeleo Chap Chap.

The ODM leader appears to have made inroads in the county, and has secured the backing of Lamu West MP Stanley Muthama, Woman Rep Ruweida Mohamed and Governor Fahim Twaha.

Meanwhile, Ruto also enjoys the support of Senator Anwar Loitiptip and Lamu East MP Shariff Athuman. The two political rivals have also secured allies crucial to drive their campaigns in the region.

In Kilifi, Devolution Chief Administrative Secretary Gideon Mung’aro has joined ODM, bolstering Raila's new team of trusted allies.

Mr Mung’aro, who won the Kilifi North parliamentary seat on an ODM ticket in 2013 before decamping to Jubilee Party, is seen as a replacement of Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi.

Kingi, who is serving his last term, has parted ways with the ODM leader and formed Pamoja Africa Alliance (PAA).

Munga'ro, who is eyeing the Kilifi governor seat, will have to battle with Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi for the ODM ticket.

Raila's other key allies in Kilifi are Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire who is also the county's ODM chairman, and Senator Stewart Madzayo. 

On the other hand, Ruto has Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and Kilifi North MP Owen Baya, who have vowed to support his presidential bid. Ms Jumwa has her eyes set on the governor seat.

In Mombasa, Raila appears to have shifted his focus from Governor Hassan Joho to banker Suleiman Shahbal and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir. Joho is not eligible to defend his seat in 2022.

The two are gunning for ODM ticket and hence being handled carefully by both Raila and Joho to avoid an ugly early fallout. Also seeking ODM ticket is deputy governor William Kingi.

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