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Cyrus Jirongo's entry into race spoils aspirants' plans

IEBC Kakamega county returning Officer Joseph Ayatta hands over a certificate to Kakamega county UDP Candidate Cyrus Jirongo on June 4, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo’s entry into the race for governor could complicate matters for other parties.

Until his clearance by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) last Saturday, Jirongo had kept people guessing about his candidature.

The former lawmaker has been sending mixed signals on whether he would be on the ballot.

On arrival in Kakamega town on Saturday, Jirongo was received jubilant supporters.

According to Jirongo, the desire to offer alternative leadership and unite the people of Western region had made him go for the top county job.

“My desire is to bring equity in wealth if elected. I also want to nurture talents given that our county is endowed with sports talent,” he said.

The United Democratic Party leader said unlike some of his competitors, he was not desperate for a job.

“I am focused on offering the best leadership that will empower the people of this county and beyond so that the Luhya community and others living in this region can earn respect.”

He told off those saying he joined the race late.

“I came into the race after my competitors had made a head start, but I am prepared for the race.”

According to Jirongo, the perception that the contest was a two-horse race between ODM candidate Fernandes Barasa and Senator Cleophas Malala (ANC) is a fallacy.

“I will mount robust campaigns across the county and within one week that perception will change. Wait and see, we are just beginning the race and I have been in this (politics) for a while,” said the politician.

Jirongo dropped his presidential bid in 2013 in support of Raila Odinga's, a move that complicated matters for ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi.

Mudavadi who vied on a United Democratic Forum party got 483,981, while Jirongo lost to Dr Boni Khwalwale in the Kakamega Senate race.

In 2017, Jirongo vied for the presidency on a UDP ticket, but managed a paltry 11,000 votes, translating to 0.07 per cent of total votes cast.

So far, IEBC has cleared four candidates Suleiman Sumba (Kanu), Michael Osundwa (independent), Optiso Otieno (independent) and Mr Jirongo.