By STEPHEN MAKABILA
Political leaders in western Kenya have taken varying positions on who to support for the Bungoma County senatorial race.
For the CORD leadership, the battle ahead is of major political significance, given that it involves one of its co-principals, Ford-Kenya party leader Moses Wetang’ula.
United Democratic Forum (UDF) leader Musalia Mudavadi has already declared the party will not field a candidate in Bungoma, but will support a New Ford-Kenya candidate.
In the March 4 general elections, UDF had fielded Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, who has since been appointed secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
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UDF, New Ford-Kenya and Kanu were part of Amani coalition, but all signed separate post-election agreements with the Jubilee coalition. The Amani coalition has jointly over 10 MPs in Western, mainly from UDF and NFK.
NFK party leader, former Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa, says the party had also talked to Kanu not to field a candidate in Bungoma.
“Of course we do not expect either TNA or URP to field a candidate there. We have a co-operation agreement with Jubilee where we have to work together on a wide range of issues in and out of Parliament,” said Wamalwa.
There are, however, concerns within UDF over indications that the party’s Kakamega Senator Dr. Bonny Khalwale, could support Wetang’ula of the CORD coalition.
Khalwale is on record as having said that he and Wetang’ula have been working together to advance interests of former Western province, advising that the people of Bungoma should either re-elect Wetang’ula, or a stronger person.
Khalwale has of late also indicated UDF is not part of the Jubilee family, which he says had failed Kenyans in relation to the rising cost of living.
“We raised the Khalwale issue with Mudavadi who has assured us he will ensure Khalwale toes the party line,” says New Ford Kenya secretary general Canon Benjamin Mwema.
Mwema said two requests for nominations have been made for the NFK ticket, one from Musikari Kombo and another request from Dr Juma Mukhwana.
“As a party, we are going to soon embark on the process of nominations and whoever will emerge the winner will be backed,” added Mwema.
Lugari MP Ayub Savula has indicated the Bungoma by-election was a Luhya affair and that outsiders should not be involved.
Accord ing to Savula, even the Jubilee Alliance to which UDF and NFK are affiliated, should not been involved in campaigns.
But Matayos MP Godfrey Odanga (ODM), says CORD will rally behind Wetang’ula and that CORD MPs from across the country were free to camp in Bungoma and ensure the coalition retains the seat.
Among key CORD leaders in the region include Busia Senator Amos Wako, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Sirisia MP John Waluke, Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba, Funyula MP Dr Paul Otuoma and Emuhaya MP Dr Wilbur Otichilo among others.
With a landslide
CORD affiliated parties (ODM, Ford-Kenya and Wiper Democratic Movement) have perfected the tradition of not fielding more than one candidate in its strongholds. It happened in Makueni, and its now happening in Siaya, Kibwezi West and Matungulu by-elections set for October 17.
Western region is viewed as a CORD stronghold and the coalition’s leadership remains hopeful the coalition will win with a landslide the way it did in the Makueni senatorial race in July.