UDA opens an office in Raila's turf, planning to have more
By Harold Odhiambo and Kepher Otieno | May 9th 2021
The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party linked to Deputy President William Ruto has stepped up efforts to infiltrate Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza turf.
The party is planning an onslaught on Kisumu, Migori and Kisii voting blocs where Raila-led ODM party enjoys huge support.
This week, supporters of UDA unveiled an interim office for its grassroots mobilisation exercise in Kisumu and prepare for a visit by the DP once restrictions on political activities are lifted.
John Oddenyo has been appointed the interim chair while Luko Ouko is the county director. Claris Ogolla and Paul Achola will act as the secretary and treasurer, respectively.
Raila has always effortlessly rallied Luo Nyanza to back his bid and political decisions even though there are a few disgruntled voices, mainly former allies.
“It is important to note that the Luo Nation generally is going through a political transition as hustler nation politics has infiltrated the community,” said Odenyo.
Recent talks of a possible alliance between Raila and Ruto could help the bid to market UDA in the former's backyard.
If that is true, many believe UDA will receive a warm welcome the same way Moses Wetang'ula's Ford Kenya and Musalia Mudavadi's ANC were received in the region during the 2017 poll.
But Raila’s party is unfazed. Kisumu ODM chair Ayiecho Olweny said UDA will not have an impact.
"They have a right to look for support. However, their move will not affect the strength of ODM, and we will continue to dominate the region,” said Prof Ayiecho.
He said that even in past polls, Ruto made attempts through his United Republican Party (URP) to infiltrate Nyanza but failed.
In Kisii, URP officials are using the Bonchari by-election campaigns to build grassroots support for the party ahead of the 2022 polls. The party is relying on former Bonchari MP John Ooro’s widow Teresa Bitutu to market itself.
The development, however, is a boost for Ruto who has been relying on the youth and former Raila foot soldiers to make gain in the Nyanza support base.
A number of Gusii MPs were elected on Jubilee ticket but are now leaning towards UDA.
Led by South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro, they have been mobilising support for Ruto.
In Migori, Kuria West MP Marwa Kitayama and Kuria East MP Mathias Robi are leading the drive.
"We are preparing for a battle that requires the people and we're enlisting them to support us,'' Kitayama said.
He said they have recruited 500-odd new UDA members in the last one month.
UDA has appointed Bevin Bhoke and Fredrick Siengoh to coordinate recruitment drives in the county and they visit villages to enlist new members.
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