A war of words has erupted among members of two factions in western Kenya as the battle for the region's soul heats up.
On one side is Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa while on the other is a group led by Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetang’ula.
The Oparanya/Wamalwa axis is supported by governors Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Dr Wilbur Ottichilo (Vihiga), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia) and Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli.
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On Saturday, the two groups held parallel meetings in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County, where Mudavadi and Wetang’ula led Jubilee-allied MPs from Western region to a meeting at the home of Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa. The other faction led by Mr Oparanya and CS Wamalwa held theirs, attended by all governors at Kitale National Polytechnic.
At Dr Wamalwa's home, Wetang'ula chided the governors of going to President Uhuru Kenyatta to ask for money, accusing them of failing to develop the region despite controlling billions of shillings.
“These are governors who control over Sh50 billion. They have failed to develop their regions and are now going to Uhuru to ask for money,” Wetang’ula said.
Mudavadi, who has previously accused his friend turned foe Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga of seeking to wreck ANC and Ford Kenya, said the scheme will not succeed. Raila is in the United Arab Emirates recuperating after a minor surgery.
“There are those who are planning to kill our parties. But we assure them that they will not succeed,” Mudavadi said.
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However, Oparanya dismissed Mudavadi and Wetang'ula, branding them selfish leaders who are only playing 'politics of the stomach' and have nothing to offer the Luhya community.
He claimed the two leaders were working with Deputy President William Ruto.
Those present at the meeting in Kitale Polytechnic are said to have voiced dissatisfaction with the DP, whom they claimed did not have the interests of the region at heart.
Wafula Wamunyinyi (Kanduyi), who together with Dr Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren) are locked in a tussle with Wetang’ula over Ford Kenya leadership, accused Mudavadi and Wetang’ula of working with Ruto.
“The meeting at Chris Wamalwa's home was just a Tanga Tanga meeting in disguise, chaired by Mudavadi and Wetang’ula. Fred Kapondi (Mt Elgon) represented Ruto to ensure no games are played against his master. Time is ripe for Mudavadi and Wetang’ula to denounce their parties and openly join Ruto,” Wamunyinyi said.
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Atwoli also accused Mudavadi and Wetang’ula of associating with Ruto allies.
“We are clear where we want the Luhya to go. We have other capable leaders other than Mudavadi and Wetang’ula who can do the job,” said Atwoli, who has been hosting leaders at his Kajiado home.
Stung by the activities of Oparanya and Wamalwa in Western, Mudavadi’s team has planned to tour the region to counter their rivals’ influence.
One such meeting took place at Sabatia in Butere yesterday but was immediately stopped when police arrested Lugari MP Ayub Savula for flouting Covid-19 regulations on public gatherings. He was later released.
And speaking at the home of Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi yesterday, Mudavadi asked security agencies not to be used by the Government to intimidate and harass political leaders opposed to the system.