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Mudavadi tells off Luhya elders for pushing one presidential candidate agenda

By Ignatius Odanga | July 17th 2016
Ford Kenya nominated MP Patrick Wangamati during a meeting recently in Bungoma. He has called on Luhya leaders to empower their people economically if they have to clinch the presidency in 2017. (PHOTO:TITUS OTEBA/STANDARD)

The Luhya Council of Elders is at it again; trying to forge unity among politicians from Western to present one presidential candidate.

But Amani National Congress Leader Musalia Mudavadi is telling them off.

While clarifying that no elder had approached Mudavadi, his Communications Director Kibisu Kabatesi said the elders have no moral authority to speak on the matter.

“The elders are just talking among themselves. They should also stop lying. As elders, they are not supposed to lie like politicians,” said Kabatesi.

He continued, “In fact, they exist as a lobby group for specific people.

How then can they expect to offer mediation?”

He further pointed out that the council was not legitimately registered, therefore it is operating illegally. According to Kabatesi, the legally recognised entity is the Western Elders Council under the chairmanship of Philip Masinde.

The chairman of the elders council, Patrick Wangamati (pictured) told The Standard on Sunday that they would be forced to call a closed-door meeting to pick a presidential candidate should Mudavadi and CORD co-principal Moses Wetang’ula fail to reach an agreement.

“As elders, we have asked them to sit down and have a reasonable discussion and agree who will step down for the other then we will support their decision.

It is a must that we shall have a presidential candidate next year,” said the Ford Kenya nominated MP.

The forum has been castigated for being ineffective and accused of taking political sides.

The elders have further faced fierce criticism for not doing meaningful contribution to the politics of Western. Wangamati is believed to be a supporter of Wetang’ula while his deputy Burudi Nabwera is a close ally of Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Little wonder that the senator has defended the elders. “Yes, they have a role to bring the community together and I hope they will manage to fulfill that responsibility since they have value and they mean well for the entire community,” said Wetang’ula.

Jubilee supporter and businessman Stanley Livondo attributed the ineptitude of the forum to the fact that leaders who were picked at the helm of the council are politicians.

“You look at the formation of the Luhya Council of Elders and you realise that senior officials there were politicians and some are still in active politics.

We made a mistake of having politicians to be leaders of that association,” said Livondo.

The elders say Wetang’ula and Mudavadi should embrace dialogue and pick one person to vie for the presidency in the forthcoming general election.

When Raila met them in Kakamega County last month, he was welcomed by Nabwera. Wangamati was conspicuously missing.

Political analyst Barrack Muluka says elders have no grassroots support or linkage and wonders how it was constituted. “It has no basis and no one can listen to them. They cannot punish anybody neither can they curse someone,” said Muluka.

Political activities in the vote-rich region have heightened recently, but the council has remained silent.

Two top ODM officials, Ababu Namwamba and Paul Otuoma resigned as secretary general and vice chairman respectively, and the elders are yet to make any political comments.

Wangamati defended the council, saying it chose not to comment on the matter deliberately since the pair had a democratic right to relinquish their party positions.

Nabwera nonetheless sounded a warning to those ditching their parties, warning that they should brace for political consequences.

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