November 24th 2017

Top Stories / Counties

Homa Bay governor Awiti finds the going tough despite having ODM ticket

In Rodi Kopany, he also addressed a volatile crowd only after the police officers on his entourage had suppressed opposition to him. Accompanied by his deputy Hamilton Orata, he addressed himself to allegations that he had presided over a corrupt administration over the last four years.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 28 May 2017 16:01 EAT

Some of the police officers in Mr Awiti's convoy cock their guns ready to battle protesting youths.

The battle for the ODM ticket in the former Nyanza Province has seen supporters of rival politicians clash over the past month, with aspiring leaders going all out to get the party's nomination. And many of the party's candidates can be said to have one leg in the political offices they are seeking, be they parliamentary, gubernatorial or local assembly seats.

However, for Homa Bay governor Cyprian Awiti, having the ODM nomination may not yet guarantee a win, if recent events are to go by. After being declared the winner in a controversial primary of April 24, Mr Awiti returned to the region for the first time on Wednesday to launch his campaigns but was met with widespread hostility from voters whose support he would need to beat his opponent Oyugi Magwanga.

In events between Wednesday to Friday, the governor’s motorcade was stoned at nearly every market centre he passed through. Driving from Kisumu County, his convoy was stoned immediately it entered Homa Bay, with the governor chased out of Chabera Market, the first stop in Homa Bay on the Kisumu-Kisii highway. The same experience was replicated in Rangwe, Nyawita and Rodi Kopany trading centres.

But bigger trouble was witnessed in Oyugis Town, the second largest urban area in the county and the base of Mr Magwanga, who is running as an independent candidate. When Mr Awiti's convoy made its way to the town, large groups of youths met his convoy with shouts of ‘Tiacha! Tiacha!’ the slogan of his opponent.

Armed police officers who were escorting the governor fired in the air and lobbed teargas canisters to disperse  the youths, thereby disrupting business activities at the market. After the police took control of the situation, the governor was able to briefly address the market women but against loud protestations from the crowd.

In Rodi Kopany, he also addressed a volatile crowd only after the police officers on his entourage had suppressed opposition to him. Accompanied by his deputy Hamilton Orata, he addressed himself to allegations that he had presided over a corrupt administration over the last four years.

The next day, the governor's convoy, again driving from Kisumu, was forced to make an abrupt U-turn along the Katito-Kendu Bay road, stopped from proceeding to Homa Bay from Kisumu. He was to visit the county headquarters to assess the extent of damage by a fire that had gutted the Homa Bay Market hours earlier.

A Facebook post in the governor's account expressing sympathy with the traders who lost valuables in the fire attracted rebuke from most commenters, with many demanding answers about the whereabouts of a fire engine the county is reported to have bought several years back but which many claimed to have disappeared.

In the meantime, at least a dozen ODM civic nominees and even the party's senatorial candidate are openly campaigning against Mr Awiti, who has also been abandoned by his former ally Fred Rabongo, the senatorial candidate in his line-up during the controversial ODM primaries.

An aide of the governor told this website that they expect the people's reception of the governor to improve immediately the official campaign period starts and top NASA leaders tour the region to inform voters "what is at stake in this election."

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