Battle ground: President Uhuru, Raila camp in Western to woo voters

President Uhuru Kenyatta (third right), his Deputy William Ruto (fourth right) and Western Jubilee leaders after a meeting at Kakamega Approved School. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard)

President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA leader Raila Odinga have camped in Western in a scramble for the 1.9 million votes.

Jubilee leaders have been in the region for three days, making it the fifth tour, since the presidential election was annulled by the Supreme Court.

Deputy President William Ruto kicked off the campaigns on Thursday in Bungoma where he received former Kanduyi MP Alfred Khang’ati who defected from ODM to Jubilee.

On Friday, the President and his deputy toured Busia and Bungoma counties in a bid to double the votes they got from the region.

On Saturday, the President held a meeting with a delegation of leaders from Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga and Busia counties before holding a rally in Mumias East.

On the other hand, the NASA leader made the second visit to the region perceived to be an Opposition stronghold.

Raila started the two-day tour of the region yesterday with rallies in Vihiga County.

Today, NASA leaders will attend a church service at ACK church in Mumias town before holding roadside rallies.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya who doubles as ODM deputy party leader said NASA will kick off their campaigns in the region this weekend.

“Raila will be in Kakamega to start his campaign. We will ensure we deliver all votes to Raila,” said Mr Oparanya.

The region will be a major political battle in the forthcoming polls. The President got a major boost after a section of leaders from the region ditched NASA for Jubilee.

Former presidential candidate Cyrus Jirongo, former MPs Paul Otuoma (Funyula), Alfred Khang’ati (Kanduyi) and former Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga decamped to Jubilee.

Deputy President Ruto while receiving Mr Khang’ati at Namwacha village in Bungoma County predicted that Kenyatta will still beat Raila in the repeat polls.

“There is no way Raila can beat Uhuru. Raila lost in the August polls and he will lose again. Nobody contested the votes and he (Raila) did not ask for recount because he knew he lost the election,” said Ruto.

He urged residents to rally behind the President.

Waste of time

“We appreciated for the over 125,000 votes we got. We request for more votes so that we can continue with our development agenda. We are grateful the Supreme Court quashed our victory so that people of Bungoma can be part of the winning team,” he said.

Dr Otuoma, who contested for Busia gubernatorial seat and lost to ODM’s Sospeter Ojaamong, said that supporting Raila is a waste of time.

The former legislator accused the NASA leader of frustrating his bid saying it is time for ‘revenge.’ He said his supporters asked him to ‘divorce’ Raila and promised to double the Jubilee votes in Busia.

“There’s no way Raila can win. He went to court to challenge the victory of Kenyatta and it was ruled in his favor but he doesn’t want the election because he knows he will lose,” said Otuoma.

Khang’ati vowed to deliver Bungoma votes to the Jubilee basket. “I have been working for Raila for over 15 years, I am now tired. Bungoma has shifted its politics and we will ensure NASA loses this county. I will lead the bandwagon that will ensure NASA is defeated in Bungoma,” he said.

He accused Raila of taking leaders from the region for granted and vowed to teach him a lesson in the repeat polls.

Similarly, Mr Akaranga who described Raila as a stumbling block for the community’s prosperity said Vihiga County will vote for Kenyatta.

“I suffered a lot while campaigning for NASA. Allow me to join Jubilee and ensure the President doubles his votes in the county. I have carried my belongings to Jubilee and I ask you my supporters to follow me to Jubilee,” he said.

Oparanya dismissed the leaders saying those who defected to Jubilee lost in the election and cannot speak for the community.

He maintained that Western is strongly behind Raila and NASA. “We are committed to deliver the region to NASA. Those who left the alliance for Jubilee did it on their own and we will not have much impact,” Oparanya said.

The governor announced that NASA affiliate parties will hold joint campaign rallies to lock Jubilee out of the region.

He said NASA elected leaders will reach to the more than 25 per cent of voters who did not cast their votes in the August 8 General Election.

“The voters who did not turn up in the last General Election are our number one target for our presidential candidate, Raila. We shall hold our first rallies at Malava, Navakholo and Ikolomani on October 7 followed by a series of campaigns in other sub counties,” he said.

Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said the community is tired of supporting the NASA leader.

He accused Raila of fighting leaders from the region citing IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba.

“Raila is leading the troupe that want our son Chiloba fired from IEBC. He is tainting the name of Chiloba and we will not allow that. The best thing we can do to save our son is not to vote for Raila,” he said.

Former MP Musikari Kombo said he has shown the community the proper direction to follow. “Raila should retire and leave politics for the youths. I cannot and will never support him because of the wrongs he did to Kijana Wamalwa and the community. The best option for the community is President Kenyatta,” said Mr Kombo.

Former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende said Western leaders have united to support the President.

“We cannot be fooled to vote for NASA. We will vote for Jubilee because they are the government. We are supporting the winning team which is Jubilee.”