Top Stories / National
Saturday, 11 Feb 2017 13:48 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
A recent pact between CORD co-principals Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka on sharing of the political seats in Coast and North Eastern regions has been frayed, plunging the opposition coalition's electoral strategy in those areas at a time of renewed efforts by the Jubilee government to make inroads into the regions.
Untill last week, ODM and the Wiper party led respectively by Messrs Odinga and Musyoka, had a working agreement on the sharing of seats in Garissa, Wajir and Tana River among other counties, but the deal appears to have been torn into shreds, with the ODM leader taking the blame from his coalition partners.
In Garissa and Tana River counties, local opposition leaders had finessed ad hoc deals on power-sharing that would see ODM elected leaders leave their party and join WDM in a bid to consolidate the Musyoka-led party in the two areas. WDM already holds sizeable electoral seats in the region and its ally's withdrawal would rev its strength even further.
At a rally in Garissa Town on Thursday, Mr Odinga endorsed ODM member Nassir Dolal to run for Garissa Township MP against Wiper Party deputy party leader Farah Maalim’s bid for the post. When Mr Maalim defected from the ODM to Wiper party late 2016, this website was reliably informed the defection was part of an understanding where ODM would leave most Garissa seats to be contested by Wiper Party.
However, on Thursday, Mr Odinga also endorsed his party's aspirant Fatuma Kinsi to run for Garissa woman representative against the Wiper Party's incumbent Shukran Gure. The party has no governorship candidate, and Mr Nathif Jama, the WDM governor who is a member of the Wiper Party, has emerged as the principal opposition leader in the region. Mr Jama, according to our sources, was instrumental in consolidating the party's members in the region.
The full import of Mr Odinga's endorsements is carried in the ODM leader had only last year asked Mr Dolal to step drop his bid in favour of Mr Maalim, who was then in ODM. On Thursday, Mr Dolal, who lost narrowly to the incumbent (Jubilee's Aden Duale) in the 2013 elections, said ODM enjoyed massive support in Garissa Town the area and should not stay out of the race.
“Our party leader prevailed upon me to step down in favour of Farah of which I accepted. This is despite me being the strongest candidate. But he decided to betray and backstab us by moving to Wiper without even informing us. It is for this reason that I will offer myself to the people of Garissa for election come August 8. It is a decision that I am not making on my own, but after consulting my party leadership and my supporters,” the Star newspaper reported him saying at the rally.
At the Coast, the rivalry between the two parties has intensified in recent weeks since ODM closed the deadline of its aspirants for the August election. Dozens of credible aspirants who did not purchase the party's nomination forms have bought WDM membership. Others went straight to WDM, fearing that ODM nominations would not be free and fair.
Yet other leaders are concerned by the outsized role Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho is playing in the party's affairs. So intense is the anti-Joho animus in some quarters that Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar is believed to be on his way out of the coalition, unless Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka resolve his differences with the governor.
Late December, after it became clear that Mr Omar's governorship campaign was headed to failure, the senator agreed to drop his bid on the condition that he would be supported for his position. However, Mr Joho could not give any such commitment as he allegedly has been preparing opponents of Mr Omar to ensure the senator wins no seat in Mombasa.
"The failure of this deal, which in any event would give Mr Joho his position back despite his poor performance, resulted in making Mr Omar very bitter and his party leader has been sympathetic to his predicament," said a source in CORD secretariat. Mr Omar has fired repeated salvos at Joho since New Year's Eve, and was the only CORD leader to support the government in withdrawing the governor's security detail.
Several coastal leaders see Joho as an overbearing character. "Since he was elected deputy party leader, Mr Joho has tried to assert his influence beyond Mombasa, and he is promoting a corps of loyalists from around the Coast he hopes to rely on for his political work in the future," said an ODM party source in Mombasa.
These fears have led some ODM MCAs in Mombasa to join WDM, among them Khamis Mwambashiri, Jabess Oduor, Riziki Fundi and Dan Onyango. Mombasa County Assembly Speaker Thadius Rajuayi, who has fought fierce battles with the governor for years, has also joined Wiper, alongside Kisauni parliamentary aspirant Ali Mbongo.
According to sources within the coalition, the ODM-WDM proxy wars have introduced negative vibes in the negotiations for NASA flag-bearer, with Mr Musyoka feeling that ODM is undermining his party's strength, fears likely to grow with Mr Odinga's now open war against Mr Maalim, who is the WDM deputy party leader.