Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and the Ford-Kenya boss Moses Wetang’ula have vowed to consolidate western Kenya into a single voting bloc that will produce one presidential candidate in 2022.
The leaders spoke after reaching an agreement not to field candidates against each other in two by-elections in the region.
They reached a pact in order to win back seats that fell vacant after the deaths of Justus Murunga (ANC, Matungu) and John Lusweti (Ford-Kenya, Kabuchai).
The parties will be supporting ANC’s Peter Oscar Nabulindo for the Matungu seat while Majimbo Kalasinga will vie on a Ford-Kenya ticket for the Kabuchai seat.
Mudavadi and Wetang’ula said the by-elections will be a “litmus test for the much-elusive Luhya unity”.
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“These by-elections will be won by the unity team and anyone outside ANC and Ford-Kenya is an enemy and project against the Mulembe Nation,” Mudavadi said.
He continued: “We won’t allow other people to come here and dismantle our resolve and unity.”
ANC and Ford-Kenya are wary of the threat posed by the newly formed United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which has been associated with Deputy President William Ruto.
The UDA party will be fielding two candidates in the by-elections: Alex Lanya (Matungu) and Evans Kakai in Kabuchai.
Mudavadi said that UDA should not expect to pull off a win like it happened in Msambweni in December when independent candidate Feisal Bader, a Ruto ally, beat ODM’s Omar Boga.
“Matungu and Kabuchai are not Msambweni. Kenyans will know the truth that this region has its unique needs and our people are not the kind of people who follow propaganda and tokenism.”
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has cleared fifteen candidates for the Matungu seat and six candidates for the Kabuchai one.
“My brother Mudavadi and I have agreed no more soft gloves for our community detractors. You are either for the Mulembe Nation or against it,” Wetang’ula said in Matungu early this week while urging voters to elect Nabulindo. “The candidates against us are projects sponsored by outsiders who want to break our unity resolve.”
Even as allies of the two leaders ramp up campaigns to prevent an upset, the UDA team has been busy convincing candidates in the Matungu race to step down in favour of Lanya.
The party’s push has borne fruit after Ernest Akeko, Paul Posho, Mohammed Ibada and Dominic Shikunyi, failed to present their nomination papers to the IEBC and decided to support Lanya.
The ANC party is not amused and has accused UDA of employing unfair tactics to win over voters.
But Boni Khalwale, the UDA deputy chair who is the former Kakamega Senator, Benjamin Washiali and politician Hadijah Nganyi dismissed claims that they are buying off candidates.
“We are not paying anyone to support us. They are joining our bandwagon due to the development agenda we have for the people of Matungu,” said Washiali, who is the MP for Mumias East.
Other candidates in the race for the Matungu seat are former MP David Were (ODM) and lawyer Charles Kasamani (United Democratic Party).
Those running as independent candidates are Bernard Wakoli, Christabel Murunga and Eugene Ambwere.