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Fallout looms in ODM primaries over Siaya gubernatorial race

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga at his office in Siaya Town.

The Siaya gubernatorial race is promising yet another bruising battle between the incumbent Cornel Rasanga and his perennial rival William Oduol.

The county's top seat has also attracted former Permanent Secretary Carey Orege and Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, with Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo throwing his weight behind the latter.

Last year, Gumbo, Oduol and Midiwo entered into an unwritten pact to support one another in order to unseat Mr Rasanga, but with a few weeks to the party primaries, a fallout is in the offing.

"My vote for the gubernatorial seat was either with Oduol or Gumbo. We are going to work together to throw out Rasanga," Midiwo said during the launch of Gumbo's bid at Rarieda Secondary School last year.

But yesterday, Midiwo accused Oduol of betraying the deal after claims emerged that he could be plotting to work with their common enemy governor Rasanga. He indicated that Oduol had failed to adhere to an agreement they made.

Midiwo revealed that he will campaign for Gumbo "because he has a good development track record and will serve the people well".

"I called both Gumbo and Oduol over tea and we sat together. I explained to them that only one person can be the governor of Siaya. We have been working together and promised to stick with one oanther, but the next thing we heard is Oduol claiming he his alone and asking people to either vote for him or Rasanga," Midiwo told The Standard.

He added that Gumbo neither betrayed their decision nor ran away from the rules of engagement, unlike Oduol.

"What kind of nonsense is this? I am too old for these kinds of games that Oduol wants to play. How can he be with us and at the same time with Rasanga? Our door is still open for anyone who wants us to work together for the benefit of the people. We want the best for Siaya. I will stick with Gumbo because he has not moved an inch from our table of discussion. I would be so wrong to run away from him," said Midiwo.

In 2013, Rasanga who received the full backing of Midiwo was declared governor after a closely contested race with Oduol, who contested on National Agenda Party of Kenya. Rasanga had been handed a direct nomination after Oduol and Nominated MP Oburu Oginga were disqualified following a chaotic ODM primaries.

Midiwo and Gumbo are among the ODM leaders who campaigned for Rasanga, but later turned to be his fiercest critics after a serious fallout.

Rasanga claims Midiwo and other critics are frustrated because he refused to offer them tenders at the expense of the electorate, while Midiwo claims that the leadership of Rasanga is marred with a lot of corruption.

But in a quick rejoinder, Oduol downplayed Midiwo's sentiments about him asking why he thinks that the decision of the top county seat solely lies with him. He accused Midiwo of posing as a king maker in Siaya politics yet he has no agenda that would benefit the common residents.

"Jakoyo is good at propaganda. It is typical of him. Who does not know that Jakoyo propagated a lot of lies about me, tainted my image and character in 2013 and ran a very perverted campaign against me in in support of Rasanga. I would like to inform the people of Siaya that initially when we were together with him and Gumbo, I thought they had the interest of residents at heart but I realised it was not the case," said Oduol.

He revealed that the discussions between the three of them were about how they would share the county cake at the exclusions of the rest of residents.

"As a leader who has his own brand, I decided I would not be party to that and that is why Jakoyo is now throwing a lot of tantrums, allegations and character assassinations. Basically, I am not against guided democracy. There is need for understanding so that I am not misunderstood and labelled a rebel to always bring confusion in Siaya County," he added.

Oduol said there was need to involve all the MPs from six sub-counties, the woman representatives and Senator James Orengo on the decision to remove Rasanga to come up with another candidate.

"I want Rasanga to go home as soon as yesterday but one thing that I am against is the idea of a few leaders that are very full of themselves and think they can make decisions for the people of Siaya. I am not against negotiated democracy. If all the leaders of this county would seat and decide on our gubernatorial flag bearer, I would support it. I am against Midiwo assuming he is the king of Siaya and will decide for us," argued Oduol.

He noted that the decision of who goes for the top county seat should be inclusive and consultative for the best interests of residents.

"We cannot sit just the three of us and decide the destiny of Siaya and who becomes governor and deputy. We would be lying to ourselves, this is what brought problems in 2013. To avoid that repetition, all the leadership should be involved. We have very experienced politicians like Orengo who must give their voice in this," he said.

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