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Who will take over Nyanza mantle from Raila Odinga?


The apparent defeat of Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga in the presidential election has reignited debate about how his exit will affect succession politics in his Nyanza backyard.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga's family has held a firm grip on the region's leadership for nearly 50 years and has been a force to reckon with.

Their 'Oteku' (absolute power) and guidance have played an important role in fostering unity and determining the political fate of some leaders.

Following Jaramogi's death in 1994, Raila inherited leadership in Luoland and has exhibited nearly equal power for the last three decades.

His chances of becoming the country's next president are now slim after the electoral agency declared Deputy President William Ruto as the president-elect, and his fate now rests solely on the Supreme Court.

With the development, all eyes are on the next kingpin in Nyanza.

Observers believe Raila's dominance in the region will be similar to his father's, who dominated regional politics even when he was not in office. There are only a few leaders in the region capable of wielding the kind of power Raila has had over the years, casting doubt on whether anyone will be able to dislodge him in the forseable future.

Despite the fact that the region has produced a number of formidable leaders, it is still unclear who will take over as the region's next kingpin.

Eyes will be on ODM chairman John Mbadi, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, and former long-term allies Anyang' Nyong'o and James Orengo.

Another crop of leaders who have tempted fate by running for office in the region with alternative parties have also developed strong profiles.

However, their defeat in the recently concluded elections effectively ends any of their chances of leading Nyanza once Raila exits the main stage.

Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, former Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma, former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, and former Ndhiwa MP Augostino Neto are among those on the list.

None of them, however, want to be associated with Raila's succession politics, given the region's history of hostility toward candidates perceived to be competing with Raila in the region.

Neto stated that he does not intend to become a political kingpin in the Nyanza region, but that the time has come for the region to embrace other parties.

Neto, a United Green Movement (UGM) co-leader, stated that he is only interested in becoming the next MP for Ndhiwa.

Dr Charles Nyambuga, a political analyst and researcher on political communication at Maseno University, believes that the August 2022 election will reveal the leaders of the post-Odinga era.

According to him, changing political dynamics in Nyanza are shaping Raila's succession and will have an impact on the region's succession politics.

"The balance of equations has shifted, and the people are taking charge of their true role in governance," he said.

The region believes Raila can still win the presidency if he can file a successful petition to overturn Ruto's victory. Following the announcement of the presidential election results, his troops have been preparing for the battle at the Supreme Court.

[James Omoro, Olivia Odhiambo and Harold Odhiambo]

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