Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Friday, 17 Feb 2017 18:13 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
CORD leader Raila Odinga today received Turkana Central MP John Lodepe into ODM. The Jubilee Party member joined ODM on the first day of Mr Odinga's three-day leg in Turkana County. Also defecting were three members of the local county assembly and several Jubilee Party activists.
The former PM's visit to Turkana is part of a new electoral strategy which involves receiving as many top leaders from the marginal communities in the Rift Valley as possible, according to multiple sources in the party. The former PM has received defectors from Turkana, Samburu, Maasai and Kalenjin during the last two weeks.
Among those who have joined the party are Narok North MP Moitalel Kenta, who ditched Jubilee Party immediately it was formed in September 2016. An aggressive campaigner, the MP has mobilised various groups of Maasai elders and is taking charge of the party's camapign for several local seats including the governor's elections.
“When TNA was dissolved, my people decided that I join ODM. The party appealed to us because we need a party in which as a leader from minority Maasai community, I will have an opportunity to even be President,” Mr Kenta had said. Since defecting to ODM, he and Kajiado Central Elijah Memusi have become pillars of the party in Maasailand and to an extent Samburu.
In Busia County, the two Jubilee Party MPs from Teso South and Teso North constituencies are reported to be increasingly cooperating with ODM. Mr Arthur Odera early this week asked his supporters to re-elect as MP but vote for the CORD presidential candidate. "You all know that I cannot abandon my people. My heart will be with you where you are but my feet are on this side," he told a political meeting.
In Samburu County, former Samburu West MP Simon Lesirma, who vied for the senator's seat on an ODM ticket in 2013, marshalled the defection of at least a dozen Jubilee Party grassroots leaders to ODM earlier in the week, while last week, 60 Kalenjin grassroots politicians defected to ODM.
The politicians, who included MCA aspirants, were led by Kalenjin Association vice chairman Robert Cheruiyot, who said they were now "back home" and would campaign for CORD leader Raila Odinga in the upcoming election. Mr Cheruiyot said Jubilee has broken its promise to the Kalenjin community after promising them so much before the 2013 election.
The CORD leader's forays into such previously Jubilee strongholds as Samburu, Narok and Elgeyo Marakwet has triggered a reassessment within Jubilee of the party's strategy for the elections, with President Uhuru Kenyatta meeting his predecessor Daniel arap Moi to find a working formula between Jubilee and Kanu.
Jack is a business and society writer at the Kenya Free Press