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Fresh unity test as ODM, Wiper rivals face off

ODM Leader Raila Odinga addressing residents in Garissa town. (Photo: Courtesy)

A move by CORD principals Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka endorsing different aspirants for various seats could work against the opposition coalition. 

In the Mombasa gubernatorial contest and in Garissa Town constituency, the two leaders have publicly backed their party aspirants in what observers say will divide opposition votes.

Leaders and political pundits believe if such endorsements are not guided, then the dream of having the opposition alliance remain intact months to the election could be a mirage.

Last week, Raila endorsed ODM member Nassir Dolal to run for Garissa Township MP, a seat that Wiper’s Farah Maalim has been eyeing. The Garissa Town seat is currently held by Jubilee’s Aden Duale.

A few days later at Kadongo Grounds, Mishomoroni in Mombasa County, Kalonzo urged Wiper Secretary General Hassan Omar and Nyali MP Awiti Bolo (Wiper treasure) to unite so that they can defeat incumbent Ali Hassan Joho of ODM.

Omar and Awiti have separately gone jugular against Joho, who is the ODM Deputy Party Leader. In Garissa Town, Dolal will be battling it against Kalonzo’s number.

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Pundits say this could undermine the strength of the Opposition coalition and affect its chances victory in the seats that will be hotly contested among themselves and the Jubilee Party.

Mid last year, the ODM leader requested Dolal, who lost to Duale in the 2013 polls to shelve his bid in favour of Maalim, but Maalim later defected from ODM to Kalonzo’s party.

Notably, Maalim could have targeted a huge Kamba community votes when he moved to Wiper.

But the endorsement of Dolal against Maalim could complicate matters for ODM and Wiper in a region controlled by clannism.

In Garissa, Dolal told said Raila had prevailed upon him to step down in favour of Farah but ‘he decided to betray and backstab us by moving to Wiper without even informing us’.

Dolal made it clear the decision to contest against Farah, a former staunch Raila ally, was arrived at after consultations within then ODM rank and life.

Equally, in the Garissa County Women Rep position, Raila endorsed ODM’s Fatuma Kinsi to battle it out with Shukran Gure. Immediately after Raila’s endorsement, Maalim tore into the ODM party leader on Twitter, saying: “Granted SKM can’t play soccer in a public rally or excite people with parables and vitendawili but has powerful integrity and public experience.”

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He later tweeted again that “The import of the tweet is that although SKM might not have charm and charisma when addressing crowds, he too is high on integrity.” SKM is abbreviation for Steven Kalonzo Musyoka. In Mombasa, Kalonzo has not shied away from declaring that the party was interested in capturing the county’s governor seat.

Close to call

Kalonzo has asked Omar and the Awiti to unite in trounce ODM deputy party leader. Political analyst Mwanamako Mohamed argues that a coalition of Hassan and Awiti could be formidable and depending on Joho’s choice of his deputy, the race could be close to call.

However, he said the contest by CORD politicians could give room to Jubilee aspirant Suleiman Shahbal, who is eyeing Joho’s seat.

During the recent Wiper National Executive meeting in Nairobi, Omar said they will field candidates in all positions across the 47 counties apart from Nariobi governor’s seat where they had endorsed the re-election of Dr Evan Kidero and his deputy Jonathan Mueke.

Similar contests are shaping up in Kakamega where Governor Wycliffe Oparanya is facing a do-or-die battle with Senator Boni Khalwale who has vowed to unseat him.

Oparanya and Khalwale are CORD members and their contest will shape into sibling rivarly.

Raila and Ford Kenya leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula have each endorsed and drummed up support for the two.

Ford Kenya Secretary General and Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu says there was no course for alarm given that in some cases, the coalition will conduct nomination to pick candidates. “We will iron out the issues,” said Eseli who is part of the NASA’s technical committee that was recently formed to put in place the coalition’s structures.

Lawyer Martin Oloo questioned the commitment of the coalition to unity, citing the political rivalry between members in regions they enjoy political support.

“The current battle for different positions under CORD will likely test their unity. If they cannot reflect unity in the lower tier, how would one expect them to remain united when it comes to national politics. This could be indication of a stalemate at some point,” says Oloo.

“Everybody want to have one of their choice, no one seems to want to compromise,” said Oloo.

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