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Friday, 31 Mar 2017 16:13 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga's campaign for the Homa Bay governorship has opened the race for the parliamentary seat that he has held for two terms wide open, with his long-time political opponent favoured to trounce a growing number of aspirants salivating for the office. Mr Magwanga's ambition to become the Homa Bay governor got a boost last month when he was named as the top performing MP by the National Government Constituencies Development Fund Board.
Meru businessman Charles Ongondo Were has emerged as the clear front-runner in the race to succeed Mr Magwanga. Mr Were is the most experienced candidate running to get the ODM nomination scheduled for 19 April, having started his run nine years ago and losing twice to Mr Magwanga, including more controversially in 2013.
In the last elections, Mr Were supporters believe he was cheated out of the ODM nomination, creating a protracted dispute that was solved in the Political Parties Tribunal where the outgoing MP Magwanga was declared the winner. Mr Were subsequently sought an alternative ticket on former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile's TIP TIP party, and gave the incumbent a run for his money, obtaining more than 14,000 votes against the MP's 18,000 despite the strong ODM wave that favoured Mr Magwanga's campaign.
Given the exit of Mr Magwanga, Mr Were has been a clear front-runner in a race that has several new entrants. The candidates are Okindo Majiwa, businessman Omoga Micholo, Nation Media Group reporter Isaac Ongiri, Homabay Nominated MCA Mary Ouma and the long-serving Kasipul ODM chairman Ken Okoth.
Mr Were's slogan "Piny Nigi Geno" (an expression of hope) conveys a sense belonging by all the people of Kasipul in light of deep divisions that have been caused by volatile campaigning of the outgoing MP. In the last one month, the aspirant has been implementing his political strategy dubbed Kijiji kwa kijiji, Boma kwa Boma, Nyumba Kwa Nyumba, Mtu kwa Mtu, Mkono kwa Mkono. Reputed to have deep pockets, Mr Were is supporting many projects in the constituency including giving every registered women and youth group Sh10,000 as a start up capital.
The aspirant touts his strong support for ODM party leader Raila Amollo Odinga´s politics in the Mount Kenya East especially in the counties of Meru and Tharaka Nithi where he has been coordinating Mr Odinga´s trips in recent years. Early this year, he identified and led a delegation of the ODM opinion shapers to Odinga´s Capitol Hill Office where they met the party leader before Mr Odinga started his charm offensive of the vote-rich Mount Kenya East. Last year he accompanied his party leader to a business trip to Germany.
The aspirant's aspirations to become the next MP for Kasipul got a major boost last week when he received the backing of three candidates in the 2013 parliamentary race, among them the vocal Kasipul politician and Nairobi businessman Odoyo Owidi, Eng. Mboga and the yet-to-be-declared Sam Okoth Rateng K'Otiende.