A meeting called by ODM leader Raila Odinga to discuss the recent Msambweni by-election yesterday turned stormy, with local leaders accusing each other of abandoning the party’s candidate.
After the day-long meeting in Diani, Raila said the party had identified several weaknesses that led to the loss of the seat initially held by ODM’s Suleiman Dori.
Sources inside the meeting said issues identified included poor coordination and lack of funds, with some ODM leaders accused of covertly supporting Feisal Bader, the independent candidate who went ahead to win the December 15 by-election.
Other leaders said ODM failed to protect its votes as the party did not have agents in most polling stations. They said the party also did not have a plan to rally voters to go out and vote for its candidate Omar Boga.
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The leaders said failure by the party to recruit volunteers to mobilise voters led to a low turnout in areas ODM candidate Omar Boga was popular.
“We have identified very many issues but we cannot share with the press,” said Raila after the meeting.
He dismissed claims that the party was losing its grip at the Coast following the loss in Msambweni to Deputy President William Ruto’s preferred candidate.
The leaders, who included Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, said they would reorganise the party grassroots and start campaigns from next month against the Tanga Tanga group allied to Dr Ruto.
Raila said ODM had won many by-elections and the loss in Msambweni did not mean the party was becoming unpopular. He said they had put the by-election behind them and were now focusing on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the 2022 General Election.
“We have called the meeting to understand the dynamics (surrounding the by-election) and reorganise ourselves. ODM is still strong,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ruto is expected to celebrate Bader’s victory tomorrow. Bader was sworn in as MP on Tuesday last week. Yesterday, Joho said the Ruto team should not treat ODM’s loss as a measure of fading popularity, promising a bruising battle from New Year.
“We are here to do a postmortem on the Msambweni by-election and see where we went wrong and the lesson learnt. Those using the outcome of the by-election as a measure of popularity are day-dreaming. We are going to start our campaigns from early next year and ensure they eat dust,” he said.
The governor said Boga who got 10,444 votes against Bader’s 15,251 should not be underrated as the by-election was marred by a low voter turnout of less than 40 per cent.
Suna East MP Junet Mohamed said the Tanga Tanga group still lacked a foothold in the country.