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ODM candidates focus on swing votes

POLITICS
By James Mbaka | February 14th 2014
ODM MPs (from left) John Mbadi, Gladys Wanga, Opiyo Wandayi, Peter Kaluma and John Kobado address a Press conference at Parliament Buildings Thursday where they supported the candidature of nominated Senator Agnes Zani for secretary general in the forthcoming party election.  [Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard]

By James Mbaka

Kenya: Various factions are scrambling for 2,854 delegates who will elect ODM top officials at the party’s National Delegates Conference (NDC) on February 28.

Aspirants are mapping out the distribution of the delegates and campaigns are focusing on perceived swing votes, a fortnight to the polls.

Aspirants have decentralised their campaigns to meet delegates at the grassroots with more concentration on counties with high number of delegates to the NDC.

Delegates will be drawn only from the former 210 constituencies because the party had not held elections in the newly created 80 parliamentary electoral units.

“We are using 210 constituencies because we had not held elections in the extra 80 constituencies which were demarcated by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Co-mission prior to the 2013 General Election,” ODM Executive Director Magerer Lang’at told The Standard.

Each constituency (sub-branch) will be represented by eight delegates with at least three of them being women while every county (branch) will send to the NDC 20 delegates.

Rift Valley, which enjoys the highest number of counties and constituencies in the country ­— 14 and 49 respectively — will have 672 delegates to participate in the election of the national officials.

Second in terms of voting strength is Eastern Province, which will be represented by 428 delegates.

The region has seven counties and 36 sub-branches.

Coming third is Nyanza region with 368 voters at the NDC. The region is ODM’s stronghold given that it is the party leader’s home turf. The region has six counties and 31 constituencies.

Central region with five counties and 29 constituencies, perceived to be the rival Jubilee coalition’s stronghold, will also have a big share of the delegates with 332 expected to vote in ODM elections.

This segment presents the trickiest loyalty for the party with fears that Jubilee would use them to infiltrate the NDC so as to alter the outcome with an aim of installing a weaker leadership.

Coast has got 328 delegates, Western 192, North Eastern 168 while Nairobi will have 84 delegates.

Aspirants have aligned themselves to two main rival camps to win over delegates from certain regions even as some MPs are pushing for an accommodative leadership structure to include governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Hassan Joho (Mombasa) who are both battling for the deputy party leader’s position.

Women form the biggest voting bloc and pundits argue Agnes Zani would be banking on that strength to capture the secretary general’s position. However, she will have to contend with fellow nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba.

In Zani’s line-up include Funyula MP Paul Otuoma (chairman), Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire (treasurer) former Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa (organising secretary) Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang’ (deputy chairman) and Governor Joho for deputy party leader.

Namwamba’s group has Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok (chairman), Eldas MP Adan Keynan (deputy chairman), Bomachoge Chache MP Simon Ogari (treasurer) and former Makadara MP Reuben Ndolo for organising secretary.

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