ODM leader team hints at dropping vote plan in some counties

ODM chairman John Mbadi. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Azimio will not zone some counties even as it pushes to implement the plan in some areas of Nyanza and Western regions.

According to senior officials in Raila Odinga’s camp, the purpose of zoning is to ensure that they deny their opponents in Kenya Kwanza seats, and are determined to boost the winning chances of the coalition’s candidates by avoiding a split of votes.

In Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori, however, the team believes that the coalition will smoothly clinch all seats and claim that all the major candidates eyeing seats are in Azimio One Kenya Coalition.

They consider Kenya Kwanza’s candidates in the region as pushovers who will be swept away by the Azimio-tide with ease in the August 9 polls, thus no need for fronting single candidates as dictated by the zoning plans.

The development is set to stoke intense competition among parties within the coalition who are all keen to snatch a few seats from ODM’s grasp.

Yesterday, ODM chairman John Mbadi , who also doubles up as the chairperson of the presidential campaign team in Nyanza, told The Standard that there won’t be need to zone Luo Nyanza because of the unrivalled support the coalition enjoys.

Stiff competition

He claimed that zoning only targets areas where the coalition has fielded many candidates despite facing stiff competition from candidates in the DP William Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza.

Mbadi claimed that the calls for zoning may not apply in Nyanza given that all the candidates are contesting under Azimio One Kenya Coalition.

He claimed that their opponents from Kenya Kwanza, who are eyeing various seats in Nyanza, lack the mettle to compete with the candidates in the coalition and a defeat for them is definite.

“In our region, we are not worried at all. All the candidates that are likely to win are in our camp and thus no need for zoning in the region,” he said.

According to the ODM chairman, the worst case scenario that can occur is if an Independent candidate clinches any seat. He claimed that all seats in the region will be won by Azimio One Kenya Coalition.

His comments come at a time when leaders from the region have also raised their opposition to zoning and insist that they would only shelve their ambitions if they are the ones favoured by the zoning.

But despite the developments, The Standard has established that Raila’s troops in ODM are pushing for zoning in Luo Nyanza to give ODM an impetus to clinch seats with ease. The party is facing a herculean test to win seats as their rivals within Azimio One Kenya Coalition intensify campaigns for local seats.

The ODM team has formed various campaign teams that will champion for the election of only its party’s candidates even as they push for zoning.

Alarmed by the damage such an act may have on other candidates, a number of candidates on other parties claimed that they will not accept zoning of Luo Nyanza in favour of ODM.

In Migori, Dalmas Otieno who is contesting on a Jubilee ticket claimed that a section of Azimio leaders who are in ODM have been conducting rallies in Migori to confirm if he was the popular candidate so that they could do zoning. 

According to Dalmas, Luo Nyanza does not belong to ODM alone and zoning in favour of ODM can be disastrous.

“One should first tell me who is better and on what criteria, for me to step down for another candidate,” he said.

Samuel Amimo, Suna East candidate vying as an independent, told The Standard that people should be allowed to face the electorate and the best candidate to be given to people. “Democracy should be allowed to thrive. I believe parties or candidates will get their votes regardless of how many they are,” Mr. Amimo said.

The developments, however, shifts focus to Gusii region where the zoning plans will be implemented in an area where both Raila’s and Ruto’s coalitions have fielded several candidates.

Raila’s team faces a herculean task to convince the candidates to drop their bids in favor of other candidates with a number of them claiming they are in the races for the long haul.

It remains to be seen if the ODM chief will broker a deal between the rival candidates in his visit to the region scheduled for tomorrow.

Borabu MP Ben Momanyi who is running for the Nyamira Governorship seat on a the Wiper Party ticket told The Standard that he doesn’t advocate for zoning.

“I don’t want Azimio to do zoning. I want the Secretariat to allow me defeat my opponents instead of phasing them out. And even if zoning is done, I’ll still be the candidate of Azimio in Nyamira gubernatorial seat.”

Candidates vying for various seats within Azimio alliance in the two counties; Kisii and Nyamira do not see eye to eye.

Majority of them have clashed in rallies despite calls to have the candidates come together and end the sibling rivalry within the alliance.

Even as they expose their wrangles before the public, their main opponents in the region; UDA has been holding rallies across the region with a promise to garner a majority of the seats and votes from the region.

Attempts by ODM leader Raila Odinga’s camp to iron out the issue has not borne any fruit as tension continues to rise among the siblings eyeing similar seats.

Strong candidates

Early this month, a number of candidates with the alliance met in Kisii under the leadership of Governor James Ongwae and ODM party chairman John Mbadi to iron out their issues as well as agree on how to conduct their campaigns and those of their alliance’s presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

They agreed to work in harmony for the good of the coalition party.

In Kisii, it is a battle between four major candidates going for the Governorship seat. They include Prof Sam Ongeri (DAP-K), Manson Nyamweya (KNC), Simba Arati (ODM) and Chris Obure of Jubilee.

The Kisii scenario is replicated in Nyamira where the alliance has three strong candidates for the governorship seat. They include Timothy Bosire (ODM), Ben Momanyi of Wiper Party and incumbent Governor Amos Nyaribo of

[Harold Odhiambo, Eric Abuga, Olivia Odhiambo and Anne Atieno]