October 19th 2017

Top Stories / Counties

With Gumbo overtaking Rasanga, allies Midowo, Ochanda say ODM would regret rigging

Eng Gumbo has won the support of Midiwo, Ochanda, Ugenya MP David Ochieng and leading aspirants Aluodo (who is running for the women representative post) and Neto Ambala and Collins Oyu, the latter who is a teachers' trade unionist who are both parliamentary aspirants.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 16 Apr 2017 13:22 EAT

Mr Midiwo and Eng Gumbo at a past campaign rally.

Rarida MP Nicholas Gumbo is the favourite to win the Siaya gubernatorial race scheduled for April 24, and his camp have fired numerous warnings to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to ensure the elections are free and fair to avoid disputes.

Spot check interviews with various analysts from around Siaya indicates that Eng Gumbo has won the support of women, youths and professionals from every corner of Siaya County including in incumbent governor Cornel Rasanga's Alego Usonga stronghold and it will take a miracle for Mr Rasanga to beat him.

Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo and Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda, who are among the main backers of Eng. Gumbo, have warned that any rigging in the Siaya gubernatorial and parliamentary races would be met with fierce resistance. Speaking on Saturday, Mr Midiwo expressed fears that the the nominations would be rigged as "blatantly" as last week's primaries in Busia County.

In Busia, the ODM National Elections Board gave incumbent governor Sospeter Ojaamong the nomination certificate, only to revoke it hours later following concerted opposition to the election outcome. Outgoing Funyula MP Paul Otuoma is widely believed to have beaten Mr Ojaamong hands down, only for the incumbent to concoct figures from two constituencies and have himself declared the winner.

Mr Midiwo, who is the minority chief whip for ODM in the National Assembly, has alleged that the Siaya County Elections Board, which works in conjuction with the NEB in organising gubernatorial elections, was staffed with members who are allied to incumbent leaders including Mr Rasanga.

On his part, Mr Ochanda, who has repeatedly accused former MP Oburu Odinga of plans to rig the nominations, said last week that Bondo would serve as an example to ODM should the primaries be rigged. Mr Ochanda is running against Dr Oburu, the elder brother to ODM leader Raila Odinga, who is trying to reclaim the seat he lost in 2013.

After months of fluidity in the campaigns, the Siaya governorship race has shaped as a two-horse between Eng Gumbo and Mr Rasanga. Former insurgent candidate William Oduol Denge has fallen to third place, ahead only of former permanent secretary Eng Carey Orege. Siaya Senator James Orengo toyed with running for governorship but is now defending his seat.

Eng Gumbo has won the support of MPs Midiwo, Ochanda and David Ochieng of Ugenya as well as leading aspirants Florence Akinyi Aluodo (who is running for the women representative post) and Neto Ambala and Collins Oyu, the latter who is a teachers' trade unionist who are both parliamentary aspirants.

Mr Rasanga is supported by Dr Oburu, an ODM Nominated MP, incumbent women representative Christine Ombaka, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, who is staying neutral in the campaigning owing to his national position in the ODM party, and Rarieda parliamentary hopeful Otiende Amollo. He is believed to enjoy the sympathy of local ODM officials.

With Mr Amollo eyeing the Rarieda seat being vacated by Eng Gumbo, he is on opposing camps with his local opponents supporting the Gumbo campaign.

Mr Oduol, who was for years seen as the greatest threat to Mr Rasanga, is recently seen as a lone-ranger, unable to win the backing of any recognised political figures. His alliance with Eng Gumbo in most of 2015-16 has come to cost him, with many of his supporters urging him to become the MP's running mate.

In the evolving political scenario, Eng Gumbo has galvanised support from Rarieda, Ugenya, Bondo and Gem constituencies. The vote-rich Alego Usonga will be shared between Mr Rasanga and Mr Oduol, although the latter may fall further in the remaining time to April 24 as reality dawns that his candidature is doomed to fail.

Mr Rasanga, being the incumbent, would get pockets of votes throughout the county, hence his head-to-head campaign against Eng Gumbo. Poor performance, corruption in the Siaya county government and his closeness to Dr Oburu are his biggest drawbacks.

In Bondo, many voters believe Mr Rasanga is part of a long-term plan by Dr Oburu to dominate the constituency and county politics, whereby Mr Rasanga has kept Oburu's son Jaoko Odinga in a senior job in preparation for the latter's parliamentary bid in 2022 when his father retires from politics.

See also: Craving for elusive Raila endorsement, Junet Mohamed, Ochilo Ayako falter in Migori races

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