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Fresh headache for Ruto and Raila as allies seek Eala posts

 Minority leader Opiyo Wundayi (centre) with EALA nominees Justus Kizito (left), Abdulahi Mohamed Diriye, Fatuma Gedi and Winnie Odinga, November 9, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga are facing an arduous task of choosing which of their allies to knock off the East Africa Legislative Assembly (Eala) nomination list to fill up Kenya's positions to the regional assembly.

The ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance and the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Wednesday submitted names for nomination to serve in the Eala which featured loyalists, family members and losers in the August 9 General Election. In the lists presented to Parliament, Kenya Kwanza fielded 15 candidates who will scramble for the five slots reserved for the coalition.

Ruto has to choose from a pool of loyalists and former politicians who include former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, former Women Rep Zipporah Kering (Nandi) and Lilian Tomitom (West Pokot), former Igembe Central MP Cyprian Kubai and former Nominated MPs Falhada Iman and David Sankok.

Former United Republican Party (URP) Secretary General Fredrick Muteti from Makueni county is also among the nominees as well as city businessman Joel Nyambane. In the run-up to the elections, Mr Nyambane shelved his ambitions to contest for the Kisii senatorial seat and threw his weight behind former Nyaribari Masaba MP Ezekiel Machogu who unsuccessfully contested for governor.

Ruto recently appointed Mr Machogu as Education Cabinet Secretary's succeeding Prof George Magoha. Nyambane was a key cog in the UDA campaigns in Kisii and Nyamira counties.

Another key ally of the president is Jonas Kuko from Saboti and who made it to the Eala list. Mr Kuko who unsuccessfully contested for Saboti parliamentary seat in 2013 and 2017 elections had been talked into stepping down from the race on August 9 by Ruto infavour of former Tuwani MCA Bernard Wambwa who is also in the regional assembly list. Mr Wambwa was, however, floored by MP Caleb Amisi in the elections.

From Azimio, the constituent ODM party nominated Raila's daughter Winnie Odinga, businessman Suleiman Shahbal who was convinced to step down from the Mombasa governor rave in favour of the incumbent Adbul Swamad and the party's treasurer Timothy Bosire. Also on the list is Former Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito who was trounced by Fred Ikana of ANC in the August 9 elections.

Former Wajir MP Mohamed Diriye and Beatrice Askul who was part of the selection panel vetting Raila's running mate was also listed. ODM party is entitled to two slots in Eala and the party's submission of six names presents a headache for Raila who must now employ intricate balance in zeroing in on the final two.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka has fronted his son Kennedy Kalonzo who will be seeking a second term in the regional assembly having served in the 4th assembly from 2017-2022. The party has also nominated Winfred Mutua and Hellen Ndeti. Jubilee Party has nominated Secretary General, Jeremiah Kioni, the Director of Elections Kanini Kega and former MP Fatma Gedi. Wiper and Jubilee are entitled to one slot each.

Allies of President Ruto and Azimio leader Raila were dropped from the final Eala lists despite them hinging their political futures on the same. At least 20 names of prominent politicians who had applied for the positions will not be considered when Parliament votes on November 17. The total number of applicants for the Eala positions were 287.

Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, Secretary General Nick Salat, former Bomet MP Florence Mutai, Wiper national chairman Chirau Mwakwere, former Busia Senator Amos Wako, former Eala legislator Simon Mbugua and former Nominated MP Wilson Sossion were dropped from the list.

Others who did not make the cut are former MPs Bernard Bett (Bomet East), Yusuf Chanzu (Vihiga), Paul Bii (Chapalungu), Defence CAS Peter Odoyo, Mwangi Githiomo (Nyandarua), Zuleikha Juma (Kwale) and Gladwell Cheruiyot (Baringo).

On Gideon's withdrawal from the race, Kanu Secretary Political Affairs Fredrick Okang'o, through a statement said: "We would like to notify the public that Hon Moi has since withdrawn his candidature so as to give the opportunity to the other candidates. He wishes them the best of luck in their endeavours."

Notably, Raila's cousin George Midiwo and Siaya Senator Oburu Odinga's son also missed out from the party's final nomination list.

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