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How Nyaribari Chache outcome may spawn third political force in Kisii

COUNTIES
By By KENAN MIRUKA | January 5th 2014

By KENAN MIRUKA        

KENYA: As the dust settles on last week’s Nyaribari Chache by-election, the major political alliances CORD and Jubilee are licking their wounds as Ford People celebrates its surprise win.

Ford People stunned the two giants picking the spoils of their epic tussle with party candidate Richard Tong’i emerging victorious after garnering 10,100 votes.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)’s Chris Bichage came second with 9,712 votes while The National Alliance’s (TNA) Robert Monda was third with 9,286 votes.

Ford People’s triumph may signify the rejuvenation of the party associated with former powerful Cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae and as analysts contend, the outcome may herald the birth of a third political force in the country.

For Tong’i, formerly a Wiper Party candidate, the win was sweet revenge on CORD after he fell out with its leadership over nominations in the run up to the by-election.

The soft spoken insurance expert was forced to decamp Wiper Party to join Ford People following disagreements over nominations. Wiper leaders reportedly denied him the ticket to allow ODM’s Bichage defend his ticket as the sole CORD candidate prompting the impasse.

“Besides being vindicated on my assertions that my victory in March 4, 2013 was stolen, this win through Ford People gives me a chance to build my political career and there is no chance of going back to CORD,” says Tong’i.

While campaigning for Bichage, CORD leaders Raila Odinga and Moses Wetang’ula indicated that the outcome of the poll may have far reaching implications in their political quests.

Dramatic twist

Wetang’ula said a win could further strengthen CORD’s momentum ahead of the 2017 General Election while Raila told residents that voting for Bichage was like voting for him.

The contest took a dramatic twist with violence rocking the polling day. Five people including two brothers to TNA candidate Dr Monda were arrested and arraigned in court charged with attempted voter bribery.

CORD and Jubilee MPs clashed at the Kisii Central Police station with Kitutu Chache North MP Jimmy Angwenyi slapping Homabay County women rep Gladys Wanga.

As Jubilee and CORD supporters traded blows and accusations at the police station, Ford People was busy mobilising their supporters to cast their votes on the ground and this may have brought the difference.

Is the Nyaribari Chache verdict a vote of no confidence in CORD and former Prime Minister Raila? Does it manifest the waning popularity of both Jubilee and CORD in Kisii?

South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya, an ODM legislator, contends that the Nyaribari Chache poll outcome signifies the changing political environment in Kisii which is keen to express independence in decision making.

“We need to look at the hard issues because the community is not willing to continue being overlooked by major political alliances in the country despite contributing enormously in terms of votes. Jubilee alliance has ignored the community judging from the recent public appointments yet without Kisii, it couldn’t have managed the magical 50+1 majority to clinch the presidency,” he argues.

The legislator adds that the community does not want to be mere contributors of votes without getting fair representation.

“This win can inspire Ford People to regain its lost glory in Kisii and this party will have a big say in local politics for parliamentary, gubernatorial and senate elections come 2017. It may hold a passport to who becomes the next president of this country,” he asserts.

Nyamweya openly declared support for Ford People candidates in Nyaribari Chache and Bomachoge Borabu by elections despite being an ODM leader but says he has no apologies to make over his stand.

“There are many people who supported Tong’i behind the scenes but I made my stand public,” he adds.

Ford People chairman Henry Obwocha says the outcome shows that the ground still respects Nyachae and gives the party hope that come 2017, the region can give it support for various seats.

“Certainly, the win has boosted our party which now has four elected MPs in parliament. This shows that the Kisii community is willing to build a party that can negotiate for them at national level like URP and Wiper are doing for Rift Valley and Ukambani,” adds Obwocha.

Kitutu Chache North MP Richard Onyonka says the outcome in Nyaribari Chache should be a wakeup call to CORD leadership that needs to appreciate the changing political tide in Kisii.

“We cannot approach a war while divided and expect to win. CORD has 24 governors in the country. Is it difficult for each of them to raise Sh 500,000 as contribution to the campaigns? We fought a good fight and though I would have been happy if ODM won, it is better that Jubilee lost out as well,” says Onyonka.

Popularity

The vocal MP says unless CORD leadership changes it way of doing things, they should brace for tough times ahead where it will be everyone for themselves.

“It is wrong to assume that party popularity will give us votes any more. We have to work for a win while united and committed,” he adds.

Interestingly, a number of ODM politicians in Kisii kept off the campaigns in Nyaribari Chache. Only senators Chris Obure and Janet Ong’era, MPs Simon Ogari, Richard Onyonka and women reps Mary Otara and Alice Chae accompanied Raila on the campaign trail.

Governor James Ongwae was represented by his deputy Joash Maangi and several Members of the County Assembly on the campaign trail.

Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire who also kept off the campaign trail says the win for Tong’i should be treated kindly because he belonged in CORD initially.

Mr Bosire added that Bichage’s loss is not the end of his political career nor does it signify the waning of CORD’s influence in Kisii.

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