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Raila banks on consensus to avert fallout of allies in elections

POLITICS
By Moses Nyamori | October 12th 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga is subtly rooting for consensus in picking candidates in his strongholds to avert acrimonious party nominations.

The party has identified at least six counties that have attracted strong gubernatorial aspirants for talks so as to prevent the likelihood of individuals running as independent candidates or on small parties.

Last week’s decision by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi to pull out of Siaya governorship race lifted the lid on behind-the-scene manoeuvres by the party leaders.

In the past, chaotic nominations have seen popular aspirants lose the party ticket but proceed to win as independent candidates.

The ODM leader is facing a dilemma in handling races in Homa Bay, Siaya, Busia, Kisii, Mombasa and Migori counties.

The party is further said to be monitoring other elective seats within its strongholds of Nyanza, Western, Mombasa and Nairobi that have the potential of sparking a fallout after party primaries.

ODM Director of Elections and Suna East MP Junet Mohammed yesterday revealed that they want to embrace consensus to prevent the defection of aspirants to small parties or to run as independents.

The party fears that perceived unfairness in primaries may end up denying it numbers in Parliament and county assemblies and create voter apathy in the General Election thereby reducing Raila’s votes.

Junet admitted that he was involved in “encouraging” Wandayi to pull out of the race further corroborating reports of the ODM leader’s attempt to prevail upon some leaders to back down in favour of others.

“Wandayi is my friend and I was aware of his plans to quit the race two months ago. I encouraged him to concentrate on his parliamentary seat,” said the Suna East MP.

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed. [File, Standard]

“We are building consensus everywhere, people who can step down for others are encouraged. All over the country, there are people who have shown interest in various seats and as a party, we want to see a mechanism to carry everybody on board. We want to encourage talks so that the best person gets the ticket,” he added.

Junet, however, denied reports that Raila would be directly involved in pushing for consensus among aspirants.

He said that the party’s National Elections Board (NEB) will guide the process but will proceed with party primaries in instances where aspirants fail to agree.

In his statement, Wandayi cited “extensive consultations” with the party leadership before bolting out of the race.

He said that his decision was in tandem with the aspirations of the Orange party and its leadership.

“As a disciplined and loyal member of the progressive movement, I will lend my full support to candidates that ODM shall have duly nominated for the position of governor and other positions in that election,” said Wandayi.

“In the meantime, I will dedicate my time and energy to the task of ensuring that Raila Odinga becomes the 5th President of the Republic of Kenya even as I continue to serve the people of Ugunja,” he added.

Siaya Senator James Orengo, former Police Spokesperson Charles Owino and former Permanent Secretary Carey Orege are seeking to succeed Governor Cornel Rasanga on ODM ticket.

In Homa Bay, ODM chairman John Mbadi and Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, will face off in nominations for the ODM governorship ticket. The two are perceived to be the front runners in the race to succeed Governor Cyprian Awiti.

Others in the race are former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and Oyugi Magwanga – who unsuccessfully contested in 2017, Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata, County Secretary Isaiah Ogwe, businessman Jared Otieno and Kuppet Secretary General Akello Misori.

Mbadi yesterday denied knowledge of plans to have some candidates pull out of the race in favour of others.

He described politics as a competition that has to be decided by the people through the ballot.

The Suba South lawmaker said that those seeking elective seats should not present their loyalty to Raila as their only qualification.

“In politics, people must compete. How does it become politics if people cannot engage in a competitive process? The people will have the final say,” said Mbadi.

He said that they are all united in backing Raila presidency but will have to square it out on the ballot.

“It is not about being close to Baba (Raila); it is about service delivery to the people. The people are interested in that person who will deliver to them. If he (Raila) says that he wants Mbadi then I must be someone who can deliver to the people. I don’t think Raila will engage in such talks,” said Mbadi.

In Mombasa, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and Suleiman Shahbal – who recently ditched Jubilee for ODM – are set to battle it out for the ODM governorship ticket. Raila is close to the two politicians perceived to be the front runners.

Suleiman Shahbal. [Courtesy]

They have previously traded barbs publicly, with Nassir labelling his opponent as a perennial defector. Shahbal has, however, indicated he was ready to battle it out for the ODM ticket.

Yesterday, the Mvita MP downplayed the push for consensus, saying this was only applicable in a closely contested race.

“Here I am the one who has remained loyal to Raila. I have been with him in the hardest of times. Consensus is when it is a tight call, but there is no tight call in this case,” said the MP.

Cut-throat competition is expected in Busia where former MP Paul Otuoma and Woman Rep Florence Mutua are expected to fight for the ODM governorship ticket.

Otuoma ditched ODM in the run-up to 2017 polls after losing out in party nominations to Governor Sospeter Ojamong’. He has, however, rejoined the party in readiness for the next poll.

In Kisii, Senator Sam Ongeri and Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati are set to face off for the ODM governorship ticket. In Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko and Woman Rep Pamela Odhiambo have declared interest to succeed Governor Okoth Obado.

In the 2013 polls, Obado decamped from ODM to People’s Democratic Party and won the election. He was re-elected on ODM ticket in 2017 elections.

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