Small parties give ODM headache in strongholds

Kisii County Jubilee, ODM, KNC and fringe parties leaders at the Kisii ATC during the first Azimio la Umoja rally. [Eric Abuga, Standard]

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party is at a crossroads when it comes to dealing with fringe parties in its strongholds.

The quest to keep ODM strong and a force to reckon with in the National Assembly, Senate, Council of Governors and County Assemblies is facing a threat as fringe parties mount a challenge against it.

Whereas the party is keen to work with smaller parties under the Azimio la Umoja movement in other parts of the country, there are jitters the parties could further dent the individual strength of the party.

In Nyanza, Western and Coastal regions, a number of fringe parties are working to challenge the dominance of Raila Odinga’s party and are using the support for his presidential bid to have a foothold.

Although some of them are friendly parties and are backing Raila’s presidential bid, they have vowed to challenge ODM candidates in other seats even as calls for joint nominations among the Azimio la Umoja alliance continues.

ODM however is unfazed with the entry of the parties and has welcomed them under the Azimio outfit to campaign for Raila. The parties have started conducting joint campaigns with ODM to market his presidential bid.

On the flipside, ODM is also pushing for the six-piece voting pattern to ensure that the political brotherhood it is enjoying with its allies does not eat into its own strength.

In Nyanza where the party has enjoyed immense support since 2007 elections, ODM has started preaching the six-piece voting pattern to diminish the fringe parties.

ODM’s cake

Among the parties that are keen to eat a share of ODM’s cake include the newly formed Democratic Action Party (DAP-K), Movement for Growth and Democracy (MDG), Green Congress Movement (GCM) party and the Communist party.

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party affiliated to Deputy President William Ruto is also trying to challenge ODM in Nyanza. The efforts however have suffered huge setbacks after some of the foot soldiers he was relying on to deliver votes returned to Raila’s camp.

ODM is however keen to control Parliament and believes its lieutenants should be given priority at the ballot in areas it considers its strongholds to give Raila numerical strength.

ODM leaders are however careful and want the majority of seats to be won by Azimio la Umoja candidates.

“We want our team to control the Council of Governors, National Assembly and the Senate,” said Siaya Senator James Orengo at the weekend.

He however challenged Nyanza to back only ODM candidates for elective seats.

The fringe parties are however not taking chances even as they wait for consensus and joint nominations under the Azimio la Umoja banner. Should joint nominations fail, some of the parties claim they are ready to go all the way to the ballot to challenge ODM even as they support Raila.

DAP-K which is backing Raila for presidency is bracing for the first test against ODM in Nyanza in Kisumu West where it is optimistic of winning.

The party is relying on veteran lawyer Olago Aluoch to clinch the seat. Previously Olago kept ODM away from the seat through Ford Kenya but has now changed sides and joined DAP-K.

In the 2017 elections, ODM’s John Awiti got 22,416 votes while Olago garnered 33,731 votes. The seat is among those that ODM wants to reclaim.

A win for Olago however will be a major boost for DAP-K and will increase its visibility in Nyanza.