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Orange party faces tough test in Kisii polls

RIFT VALLEY
By James Mbaka | November 10th 2013

By James Mbaka

ODM will seek to prove its political might in Kisii politics in a fierce showdown against the influential family of former powerful minister Simon Nyachae ahead of the December 19 by-elections.

And a senior partner in the CORD family suffered a major political injury ahead of the Nyaribari Chache parliamentary by-election after its candidate decamped to Ford-People.

Richard Tong’i, who successfully petitioned the election of immediate former area MP Chris Bichage, ran for the Nyaribari Chache seat in the last election.

He had been touted to fly the Wiper ticket after CORD allowed coalition members to field parallel candidates in the race.

ODM’s national elections board cleared Bichage to fly the ODM flag for the Nyaribari Chache race while Peter Kimori will be the party’s torchbearer in the Bomachoge Borabu contest.

Tong’i’s decision to ditch Wiper for Ford-People will, however, be a sigh of relief for CORD, which will now campaign for Dr Bichage to recapture his seat through ODM.

Kisii branch party secretary Joash Maangi said the move will now enable the party to mount vigorous campaigns to drum up support for Bichage.

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Nothing for granted

“We are set to hit the road running to deliver the seat, but I wish to challenge party members not to take anything for granted,” Maangi said.

Maangi, who is also the Kisii County Deputy Governor, dismissed the political moves by ODM competitors in Nyaribari Chache as being fronted by high-powered former and current leaders to kill the party’s popularity on the ground. Earlier, reports indicated that former minister Sam Ongeri had been haggling to have Tong’i secure a TNA ticket but it took the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s top party officials to have Dr Robert Monda, who served the constituency in the 10th Parliament, secure the TNA ticket.

Prof Ongeri, who unsuccessfully vied for Kisii County senate seat, has been having a frosty political relationship with Monda into and after the last election. Ongeri was the Jubilee Alliance’s Nyanza region point man. He is currently the president’s advisor on governance.

During the last election, Monda unsuccessfully vied on a NARC ticket, the same party that sponsored him to the 10th Parliament.

Monda toppled Nyachae from the seat he held for over two decades, a period that constantly kept the Nyaribari clan in government except in the 9th Parliament when he ran for president on a Ford-people ticket.

It has now emerged that Ongeri was tasked to woo Tong’i to join Ford-people, a Jubilee allied party by forces keen in perpetuating the secret hand of Nyachae. Also in play was Constitutional Implementation Commission (CIC) chairman Charles Nyache, who said to be considering joining active politics to succeed his father.

However, speaking to The Standard on Sunday, Ongeri downplayed the ongoing political realignments in the region ahead of the two by-elections, saying such cannot pass in a political arena.

Cordial links

He denied claims that he was working against Monda by fronting Tong’i and insisted that they enjoy cordial and cosy relationship despite differences of principle and opinion.

“I personally have nothing against Monda. We are working together and those reading too much into it are missing the point,” said Ongeri when reached for comment.

Speaking to the Standard on Sunday, Bichage exuded confidence he would recapture his seat. “I do not fear anybody since I was even ready for a joint nomination. I will bounce back with a bang,” Bichage said.

Tong’i is said to have been frustrated deeply by some ODM machinations who were keen to give the party ticket to Bichage and blocked any efforts to conduct a joint nomination exercise with the CORD family.

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