The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party leaders in Kakamega County are at loggerheads barely one week before Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is expected to tour the region on April 1.
Party vice chairman Seth Panyako is on the spot following a meeting he convened on March 12 in Amalemba where new office bearers were unveiled.
The meeting was attended by UDA delegates from 60 wards and politicians allied to the party. David Muhanda, who unsuccessfully vied for the Mahiakalo Ward seat, was elected UDA branch chairman while Stanley Waiswa was handed the branch secretary-general post.
"All UDA leaders led by Mr Panyako were in attendance save for former Mumias MP Benjamin Washiali and ex-sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa who sent their apologies because they were not available on that particular day," said Mr Muhanda while defending the new office bearers as the legitimate team.
He added: "The landlord had earlier told us that he had not received rent for several months when we visited the office. We sat together and decided to put structures in place for proper management of party affairs."
Mr Waiswa said members decided to open an interim office to coordinate affairs of the branch and engage in political activities.
But a rival camp led by Jared Mukoshi and Kaburu wa Kaburu claimed to be the official UDA branch chairman and organising secretary, respectively.
"We are the recognised branch office but we understand some other people held meetings in bars and purportedly picked new office-bearers. Those are not UDA officials," said Mr Kaburu.
He warned Mr Panyako to stop interfering with the branch affairs. "If you are a UDA national official, keep of the branch affairs," he said.
Panyako, who is also the Kenya National Union of Nurses secretary-general, could not be reached for a comment.
Mr Mukoshi said that the branch leadership resolved one week ago to open new UDA offices across the county, contrary to claims by the rival camp that there have been no ongoing activities.
"That is what we have been working on. We have just received a list of office bearers for Lurambi sub-County. So far, we have established UDA offices across the 12 sub-counties," he said.
The UDA Lurambi sub-branch office has endorsed Zacharia Akhonya from Butsotso East as chairman, Kennedy Mulima from Butsotso South South as party secretary and John Brown of Sheywe as the treasurer.
"Kakamega branch is stable under the leadership of founding leaders, including Mr Washiali, Senator Boni Khalwale, among others. They are the ones who started UDA in Kakamega and campaigned for President William Ruto vigorously in this area. Those joining from other parties must keep their cool and contend with the little they get in government," said Mukoshi.
UDA supporters across the county have been preparing to receive Mr Gachagua who is expected to grace an interdenominational service for 40 churches from Uasin Gishu and Kakamega at Silungai Primary School in Malava constituency on Saturday on the invitation of President William Ruto's aide, Farouk Kibet.
Area MP Malulu Injendi said that Gachagua will be accompanied by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and the Speaker of National Assembly Moses Wetang'ula, among other leaders.
It remains to be seen whether the deputy president will intervene and help resolve the row threatening to split the UDA county leadership.