Democratic Action Party - Kenya (DAP-K) has announced the withdrawal of its candidate in the Busia governor race in favour of ODM's Paul Otuoma.
DAP-K patron Eugene Wamalwa said they felt it was important for the Azimio la Umoja coalition to have one candidate for the seat to enhance their chances of winning it and that is why his party decided to withdraw its Dr Moses Mulomi, who is also the deputy governor.
"We have asked our candidate to step down so our coalition can have one aspirant for the seat of governor. We are all now supporting Dr Otuoma," said Wamalwa who spoke in Budalang'i, Busia County, on Saturday during a meeting that was attended by Otuoma and area governor Sospeter Ojaamong.
He said they weighed the candidacy of Mulomi and found it wanting before a decision was made that DAP-K should withdraw from the race and support the ODM candidate.
Others in the race ANC's Sakwa Bunyasi, who has emerged as a formidable force in the race to succeed Ojaamong, Michael Oloo of the National Liberation Party, and Daniel Nyongesa of the National Alliance Party of Kenya. Bunyasi, who has also served as Nambale MP for two terms, is an economic and public policy expert, while Otuoma is a veterinary doctor and a former MP for Funyula. Oloo was a lecturer at Moi University while Nyongesa is a former chief officer in the local county government.
This came after Mulomi, who missed the Budalang'i meeting, had declared he would not step down.
"I have supervised many county projects. I know the county will achieve much more under my leadership," Mulomi said in a statement on Friday.
This also came after a section of DAP-K officials has also announced they would back Otuoma. The members drawn from the 35 wards, on Tuesday, said the decision to back Otuoma was informed by the party’s resolution to rally support behind one Azimio candidate.
DAP-Kenya county chairman Martin Kafwa said despite having a candidate in the governor contest, they chose to join Otuoma’s team because he has a higher chance of winning.
However, Dr Mulomi dismissed the announcement saying it does not change his position to run for the seat, promising to intensify his campaigns.
Otuoma lauded the move by Wamalwa, who is the Defence CS, to back him saying: "This will make it easy for ODM to win the seat. This way, we will spend our time campaigning for our presidential candidate Raila Odinga in Busia and the larger western region and not on sibling rivalry," said Otuoma.
During the meeting, Otuoma, who is a former fisheries minister, and Ojaamong pledge to put their differences aside and work together. Their differences stemmed from their fight for the seat in 2017 when they both contested the seat, Ojaamong narrowly winning by 135,153 votes against Otuoma's 124,905.
Bernard Wamalwa, the Azimio la Umoja coordinator in Busia County, said withdrawing Mulomi from the race would end sibling rivalry.
"We are happy with the unity we have achieved here. It will be easier to meet our main target of making Raila the fifth president of Kenya. We are hoping to deliver all the 35 wards to Azimio as well as the seven MP seats," said Wamalwa.