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Final dash for Western and Nyanza's 5.6m votes

Raila Odinga (third-left) in dance with a section of Western leaders in Kimilili, Bungoma County. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

With less than two weeks remaining before next month’s General Election, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition presidential hopeful Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto are doing all they can to bag Nyanza and Western Kenya’s 5.6 million votes.

The Standard has established that the two camps have drawn up a heavy schedule with marathon campaigns in the region. Although DP Ruto has already concluded his campaigns in the region with a rally in Kisii last weekend, his allies are saying put to guard the votes they have gained in Gusii and Western regions.

In Western Kenya, his allies led by Amani National Coalition leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetangula are leading a final onslaught for the region’s 2.6 million votes.

Ruto is expected to make a final stab at the region with campaigns in Busia and Bungoma today before shifting his attention to Central Kenya. Afterwards, he will be relying on Mudavadi and Wetangula to maintain and strengthen his support.

In the last couple of days, the two leaders, whose own parties are also battling for votes amid intense competition from Raila’s ODM and Azimio-affiliated DAP-K, have pitched tent in the region asking the community not to abandon them.

The two coalitions understand the significance of the voting bloc with Raila’s allies confident the region is wholly behind him just like it has been in the past three elections. He hopes the region’s vote will complement the gains he has made in other parts of the country including Mount Kenya.

Western region has 2,616,929 registered voters, Luo Nyanza has 2,160,439 registered voters while Gusii boasts of 960,293 registered voters. Raila’s camp considers the entire region as his voting base because of the huge support the region has accorded him in the past.

The Azimio One Kenya flagbearer is, however, not taking any chances and will lead a final onslaught to ring-fence the region next week with rallies in Kisii, Kisumu and Kakamega. In Western, long-term ally-Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and DAP-K leader Wafula Wamunyinyi, as well as former administrator George Natembeya are leading Raila’s last-minute campaigns.

In Nyanza, multi-faceted teams of his long-term allies and ODM stalwarts are conducting vote-hunting drives and campaigns against voter apathy. They have been tasked to also drum up support for six-piece voting pattern.

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi with DP William Ruto at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega County on June 12, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The leaders are also working on a plan on how they will protect the votes in the region and are considering joint agents to man the polling stations across the region.

A senior official in Raila’s camp told The Standard that each party within the Azimio-One Kenya coalition is expected to work on a plan with all their candidates to ensure they have agents in all the polling stations to keep an eye on Raila’s votes.

“ODM candidates, for example, are expected to work jointly with other agents and ensure they protect our presidential vote. We are keen to ensure Raila bags almost all the votes in the region,” said the official.

Raila’s camp believes the voting bloc will jump-start his State House bid and is confident of clinching over 90 per cent of votes from a region that has backed him overwhelmingly in past elections.

He has tasked a multi-faceted team of allies to ring-fence the voting bloc and tackle the fears of voter apathy even as they rally residents to cement the support base.

In Siaya, a group of leaders led by Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, Raila’s elder brother Oburu Oginga and all ODM candidates have barnstormed the region to rally residents to turn out in their numbers and vote. They will start their rallies today.