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'We won't drop out': Azimio faces tough test as candidates defy calls to drop bid

Former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo with his running mate David Ohito after being cleared by IEBC in Siaya on June 4th 2022. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition is facing a Herculean test in its bid to convince some of its troops in Nyanza to drop their bids in favour of other candidates.

Reacting to the decision to force some candidates out in order to give the coalition’s strongest candidates a better chance, some maintained they would not shelve their ambitions.

They said the proposals were okay to the extent that they were the ones “being considered” to fly the Azimio flag, signaling a continuation of the persistent sibling rivalry within the coalition’s leadership.

In Kisumu, Governor Anyang' Nyong’o said the process will entirely depend on candidates dropping out but maintained that he was the sure bet to win the Kisumu governor's seat for the coalition.

Prof Nyong'o is facing off with former governor Jack Ranguma, who is flying a Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) ticket.

The Kisumu governor said it was still too early to comment exhaustively on the matter as the coalition council's determination on sibling rivalries was yet to be communicated.

“It depends on what type of candidate that you are dropping your bid for. Of course you know that if I drop my bid for Ranguma, Azimio will lose. That’s an obvious fact,” he claimed.

In Siaya, former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, who is vying for governorship on a United Democratic Movement (UDM) party ticket also claimed that he was the most popular.

He said he was certain that he would carry the day if a popularity test was carried out. His competitor for the seat is ODM’s James Orengo.

“If they went that way, I will be the beneficiary since I am way ahead of all the other candidates,” he claimed. However, Orengo was unavailable for comment.

The candidates said though the proposal to have one strong coalition candidate was good, the timing was wrong as they had already committed their resources to campaigns.

Sellah Ayimba, a radio journalist eyeing the Siaya Woman Rep seat, said she would not heed any calls to drop out and claimed that she was in the race for the long haul. She is facing off with ODM’s Christine Ombaka on an MDG ticket.

“Having more than one candidate for Azimio is good for democracy and will help increase voter turnout,” she said.

In Rangwe Constituency, DAP-K candidate Achuodho Kachuodho dismissed plans to have candidates drop out, describing such a move as undemocratic.

Kachuodho said there was need to give the electorate an opportunity to elect their leaders.

“I have not been approached by anybody about the idea. But we should avoid what may make us appear dictatorial to the electorate. Let the electorate be given time to elect their leaders,” Kachuodho said.

In Homa Bay Town Constituency, Martin Ogindo, too, said he had not been approached.

“If I am approached, I will deal with the matter then,” he said.

Candidates from Nyamira County have cautioned the Azimio la Umoja coalition against zoning candidates.

Mwancha Okioma, who is seeking the Nyamira governor’s seat, said zoning would only be effective if it was scientifically informed.

In Migori, the county’s ODM chairman Philip Makabongo noted that the party had avoided fielding candidates in areas considered to be strongholds of affiliate parties.

He said the party had given room to DAP-K, Jubilee and other parties to field candidates in their strongholds, and that ODM took a huge chunk of Nyanza which it considers its stronghold.

Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama said it was too late for the coalition to ask candidates to drop out.

He is defending his seat on a Jubilee party ticket and will face off with Isoe Ochoki of ODM.

The MP said candidates had spent and invested in campaigns, and asking anyone to step down in favour of the other would amount to a waste of their time and resources.

“It is not even democracy. They knew there was an ODM and Jubilee candidate and would have taken a decision a long time ago,” he added.

Speaker Joel Kairu, however, supports the coalition decision to field only strong candidates.

Kairu is flying the Jubilee flag and will face off with Isa Okello (ODM) and Grace Karuga (Kanu).

“For sure if all of us contest, we will lose to our opponents. If they bring their research results and it is determined that I will lose, I will have no business,” he said.

[Reported by Olivia Odhiambo, Stanley Ongwae, Isaiah Gwengi, James Omoro, Anne Atieno and Julius Chepkwony]