August 19th 2017

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New fears over ODM nominations in Nyanza

“Mr Odinga’s public association with leaders like Mr Awiti with whom the voters have publicly expressed their displeasure is sending wrong signals about the party’s readiness to conduct free and fair nominations.”

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comMonday, 05 Dec 2016 11:58 EAT

Mr Odinga addressing a rally in Kericho County yesterday. (Photo: Mr Odinga's Facebook page).

CORD leader Raila Odinga’s visit to Homa Bay County this weekend has triggered concerns that the ODM nominations for the region’s gubernatorial seat might not be free and fair. During his trip to attend the third memorial service of the late Barrack Okul in Karachuonyo constituency on Saturday, the former prime minister spent considerable time with Governor Cyprian Awiti, just a week after the governor was heckled by his own constituents.

“Mr Odinga’s public association with leaders like Mr Awiti with whom the voters have publicly expressed their displeasure is sending wrong signals about the party’s readiness to conduct free and fair nominations,” said an aspirant for the Homa Bay senate seat seat who did not wish to be named.

The same feeling has been expressed in several constituencies where ODM officials are seen as promoting the political interests of candidates. Last week, an aspirant for the Ugunja constituency seat, Michael Okumu, asked Mr Odinga to ensure ODM officials concentrate on his presidential ambitions rather than undermining local leaders.

Mr Okumu, who has declared his interest in the Ugunja parliamentary seat held by ODM political affairs director Opiyo Wandayo, accused ODM MPs and officials from the region of not doing much to advance the CORD leader’s presidential ambitions. He said that instead of mobilizing voters, the officials were plotting on how to influence grassroots nominations in their favour.

“Right now, voter registration is going on around the country but none of our leaders is focusing on that. It is like we are sitting waiting for the IEBC’s national voter registration exercise which will only come in February next year. Our leaders need to sponsor people to register,” he said, while presiding over the launch of a one month voter registration exercise at Sidindi.

Mr Okumu said the electoral commission had only registered 2,500 voters out of a target of 7,000 yet the region’s leaders were not addressing the issue. The Nairobi-based advocate is working with local IEBC officials and the provincial administration to ensure that all uncollected ID cards are given out to the owners to be able to register as voters.

In Alego Usonga, MP Omondi Muluan (a former ODM member who was eventually elected on the Wiper Party ticket after losing ODM nominations) has accused ODM chairman John Mbadi and Ugunja MP Wandayi of endorsing aspirants in his constituency, yet he had indicated his intention to rejoin ODM.

During a recent event at Tula in North Alego where he commissioned a Sh3 million Kakan Water Project, the MP asked the party leaders to concentrate on voter registration or other programmes that would increase Mr Odinga’s voters. “Endorsing aspirants in Alego/Usonga will not add any vote to Raila’s presidential bid. Mbadi and Wandayi should be widening Raila’s campaign scope instead of fighting me,” said Muluan.

He said the MPs had been going around the constituency saying he was not in ODM. “I only crossed over to Wiper Party to get what I wanted in 2013 but in 2017 I will roll my sleeves and fight for the same post within ODM party as am still a life member of ODM,” he said.

“Nyanza leaders should concentrate no delivering Raila’s votes in 2017 and leave the county, constituency and ward politics to aspirants to battle it out among themselves,” he said. Among his main opponents are Samuel Atandi and Kevin Osuri.

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