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Raila headache as Kajiado allies pull apart

ODM leader Raila Odinga shakes handS as a sign of peace with the three Azimio la Umoja gubernatorial aspirants shortly before a rally at the KCB grounds at Kajiado on Tuesday. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

Tension witnessed during recent meetings could spoil the party for Raila if it remains unchecked.

Bitter rivalry among Raila Odinga’s allies in Kajiado is giving the ODM leader sleepless nights as he works overtime to stem a possible fallout ahead of the August elections.

And the biggest battle is on the position of governor as several of Mr Raila’s allies are seeking the county’s top job currently held by Joseph ole Lenku, who is fighting to retain the seat.

Some aspirants are pushing to have those seeking any seat in the county be subjected to nominations under the Azimio la Umoja movement while others feel political parties affiliated to the movement should be allowed to field their own candidates in all positions, except the presidency where they will all support Raila.

On Wednesday last week, Raila landed in Kajiado town for a series of meetings with a section of local leaders, including members of the clergy, before addressing a rally in the afternoon.

And there are fears that the tension that was witnessed during the meetings could spoil the party for Raila if it remains unchecked.

Tense moments were witnessed during the highly charged Bush Camp meeting where the ODM leader first met political leaders and the clergy as well as during the rally at KCB Grounds.

Former area governor David Nkedianye and Kajiado Central MP Memusi Kanchory indicated that they were not ready to be subjected to nominations under the banner of Azimio la Umoja.

The supremacy battle pitting Lenku and Nkedianye spilled over to Raila’s rally at KCB Grounds when a group of youth shouted down the former county chief and Kajiado North MP Joseph Maje. 

Nkedianye has picked Maje as his running mate as he bids to recapture the seat. The shouting contest did not go down well with Memusi who was the MC during the rally.

“We are aware money has been distributed to some youth to shout some of us down. We will not be intimidated by that,” said Memusi.

Memusi and Nkedianye said ODM and Jubilee should be allowed to field candidates separately instead of presenting joint candidates under Azimio.

“I pray that the various parties are allowed to have their own candidates but support Raila for the presidency. I want to see Nkedianye’s supporters and those of governor Joseph ole Lenku vote for Raila but allowed to choose their favourite candidate for the post of governor,” said Memusi.

Nkedianye has been holding caucuses in the name of ODM. The former governor has asked the party leader to allow the outfit to field candidates in various positions.

His campaign materials have both ODM and Jubilee party colours and symbols.

Destroyed by opponents

“Today, we have witnessed youth boo some of us. Our campaign materials have also been destroyed by our opponents. It has been claimed that governor Ole Lenku is the one who mobilised the youth to do that. Our stand is that we will not have an Azimio la Umoja candidate for the governor’s seat. Both ODM and Jubilee will have to do their nominations separately, “Nkedienye told The Standard shortly after the rally.

However, Lenku is opposed to calls to have Azimio la Umoja affiliates field candidates saying; “Nkedienye, Memusi, and Manje are not alive to the new realities of coalition building.”

Lenku and his allies in the county assembly termed those opposed to having joint candidates under Azimio as enemies of the aspirations of what the handshake between Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta intended to achieve.

Lenku claimed leaders who enjoyed direct nominations in past elections fear the primaries because they have lost popularity.

At a meeting in Dalalekutuk last month, Memusi urged Raila not to subject ODM candidates to nominations.

“ODM has structures and intelligence to know the popular candidates without going for nominations,” he said. Other than Lenku, former Olkejuado County Council chairman Tarayia ole Kores is also advocating joint nominations under Azimio la Umoja movement.

Kores, who is also eyeing the governorship, said joint nominations are the only way those supporting Raila will have a formidable force against Deputy President William Ruto of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and his allies.

“We cannot afford to split our votes. As Azimio members, we need to stick together as we face the bigger battle from our UDA rivals. Having affiliate parties field their own candidates will defeat the whole purpose of Azimio la Umoja and the spirit of the handshake,” Lenku said.

During the rally in Kajiado, Lenku asked Raila not to allow those engaging in divisive politics to ruin the unity plan of Azimio for their own selfish interests.

“If one feels they are popular and are ready to go for a seat, including the governor, then why are they afraid of nominations? We have so many candidates who are interested in Azimio la Umoja tickets. In case consensus fails, let us pick candidates by way of primaries, under Azimio,” he said.

Raila had earlier tried to reconcile Lenku, Nkedianye, and Kores.

Kores called on all aspirants to focus on the bigger picture of Raila winning the presidency. “That is what should determine how we pick candidates for the various seats,” he said. He added: “We can only have one governor at a time. If our candidate wins the presidency, then there will be much more for our people to share. Let us remain focused. UDA is busy marshalling its troops and we must not let them get a through pass.”

In the Jubilee camp, county assembly majority leader Julius Moipai and whip Waichanguru Ndirangu are also pushing for joint tickets under Azimio.

“Those pushing various parties to field their own candidates are those who have thrived on direct nominations and ethnic bigotry. They are the same people known to divide residents of our county,” said Waichanguru.