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ODM plots to win back Siaya governor seat

POLITICS
By LAWRENCE ALURU | September 29th 2013

By LAWRENCE ALURU

Although ODM leaders say there is no strong opposition in the upcoming Siaya gubernatorial by-election, the party needs to prove that its supremacy in the region is intact.

The party will be seeking to rebuild its image by clinching the gubernatorial seat. ODM leaders believe the party’s image will suffer should a candidate from a rival political party clinch the seat.

Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda says the party must rebuild its image if it hopes to compete with its rivals nationally. “It is not only for the party to build its image but also the candidate. Otherwise the loss will be very grave for CORD leader Raila Odinga,” he said.

The clearance of three candidates to vie for the seat by the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission has set the stage for ODM to prove that it is still the strongest party in the region.

 Three-horse race

Those cleared for the seat are immediate former governor Cornel Rasanga of ODM, William Oduol of the National Agenda Party of Kenya (NAPK) and Dr Noah Winja, an independent candidate.

Oduol, Rasanga’s strongest opponent, says he will not relent even after he attended ODM’s consultations to pick the party’s flag bearer in the by-elections.

He instead moved to NAPK, a CORD affiliate party, saying he could not vie for the seat through a party that does not observe democratic principals in its decisions.

Oduol had promised to back off if he was beaten at the party’s primaries. But immediately ODM settled for Rasanga, he presented his papers to the IEBC. ODM read mischief in his move, with some of its leaders saying publicly that the race is now between President Uhuru Kenyatta and CORD leader Raila.

The leaders said CORD will field only one candidate for the seat.

Landslide

Oduol however insists that his party is a CORD-friendly party and that nobody has imposed him to fight the ODM in the by-elections.

During the March 4 elections, Oduol garnered more than 130,000 votes, coming second to ODM’s Rasanga.

But Ugenya MP David Ochieng’ believes Rasanga will win with a landslide. “This is an ODM zone and no amount of pressure will change the hearts of the voters. The by-election is a walk over and does not warrant speculations about the party’s image,” he says.

Ochieng’ says the party gave all the candidates a chance during consultations. Speaking at a rally in Siaya recently, CORD leaders said the Jubilee Government was plotting to weaken the coalition.

They told a mammoth crowd that “some people” were meddling in the county’s affairs by bringing confusion among the political leadership.

Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama said there were sycophants planted in the midst of the people of Siaya to bring confusion in CORD. “We only have one CORD candidate vying for the gubernatorial seat. If you see someone saying he is in CORD, kindly note that he has been sent by spoilers,” he said.

 Consultations

Cautious of losing the Siaya governor’s seat, Raila has put efforts to ensure his party retains it at all cost. Dr Ochanda says Raila chaired most of the consultations that agreed to back Rasanga.

“Arriving at the candidate of choice was a serious resolution since he had some reservations but after a deep search of the minds, they came up with the name,” he says.

The MP said it would have been illogical for the party to pick another candidate as it had “invested so much on its governors”.

MPs from Siaya County have vowed to campaign for their candidate at all costs to ensure ODM retains the seat. For the coalition to have majority governors, it must reclaim the seat they lost after the High Court nullified Rasanga’s election. With the nullification of Rasanga’s election, both CORD and Jubilee have 23 governors.


 

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