ODM leader Raila Odinga has said the party is stronger than ever before and allayed fears it may have been weakened by his Handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Buoyed by the twin victories in ward by-elections in Kilifi and Garissa, Raila said ODM was now poised to win the Kibra parliamentary by-election with a landslide on November 7.
“ODM is emerging stronger by the day. The twin victories are just a sign of good things ahead and it’s just a matter of days before we reclaim the Kibra seat,” Raila said.
“We are poised for victory in Kibra for candidate Imran Okoth because ODM is the party of choice there. Other candidates are just escorting us to the polls.”
ODM won the by-elections in Ganda ward in Kilifi County and Abakile in Garissa.
“I know some people mock us that we will lose like we did in Ugenya. But I want to tell them Ugenya race was a friendly match. It is different from Kibra,” he said.
In Ugenya by-election held in April this year, the party’s choice, Chris Karan, lost to David Ochieng of Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) party.
On Friday, Reuben Katana of ODM clinched the seat in Ganda ward, Malindi Constituency, Kilifi County.
Katana garnered 4,177 votes, trouncing Abdul Omar, an independent candidate, who got 2,331 votes while Jubilee Party’s Joseph Kiponda came a distant third with 599 votes.
The campaigns for the mini poll turned chaotic just before the election day, leading to the death of one person and the consequent arrest of Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa.
In Garissa County, Sheikh Mohammed Ali of ODM won Abakile ward seat after bagging 1,961 votes while his rival, Jubilee’s Abdiwahab Osman, garnered 155 votes.
In Kibra, Jubilee has fielded former footballer MacDonald Mariga. Other candidates in the race are Eliud Owalo of Amani National Congress (ANC) Ford Kenya’s Khamisi Butichi.
Yesterday, speaking on Ramogi FM, a vernacular radio station, Raila said the handshake has brought peace in the country and called for peaceful campaigns in Kibra.
Raila thanked ODM supporters for remaining steadfast and unshaken, despite criticism from their political adversaries out to “wreck their ties” with President Kenyatta.
On the reforms process, Raila assured Kenyans that they will have the final say on how they ought to be governed through a national referendum.
Critical inflection point
“We want you to have faith in the ongoing reforms process. Once the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report is out Kenyans will have to decide on the emerging contentious issues,” he said.
“The health of our democracy is at a critical inflection point. Kenyans are demanding far-reaching solutions to return power to the people through a referendum.”
The former Prime Minister said Kenyans want election reforms that will make democracy more accessible to the everyone instead of a select few.
Yesterday, Deputy President William Ruto was quoted as saying the BBI will have to undergo another round of validation by Kenyans, and that its proposals would not be final.
President Kenyatta had earlier in Mombasa attacked politicians he said were belittling the BBI, which they formed to end years of hostility among Kenyans.
“That road, myself and Raila with other leaders, we shall complete. Do not be misled, love your country and respect yourselves,” the president said.
ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said the decision by the ruling party to field a candidate in the Kibra by-election will not hurt Raila’s rapprochement with President Kenyatta.
Like his boss, he affirmed that the handshake will remain intact.
Meanwhile, IEBC Communications Manager Tabitha Mutemi has denied claims by ODM that it was planning to rig the by-election.
“The IEBC does not rig elections. There are no direct benefits, it is not desirable and it serves no purpose to do so,” Mutemi said.
He told the Sunday Standard that the commission prides itself in having employed staff from every constituency in this country.
“So IEBC has no favourite candidates, executes its mandate without fear and favour to ensure the process is free, fair and credible,” said Mutemi.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati on Wednesday met ODM officials, led by John Mbadi, who had earlier demanded the register of all voters in Kibra.