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ODM defends nomination of 24 year-old Senator

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has come to the defense of its nominated Senators and Members of the National Assembly.

The Raila Odinga-led party maintained that due process was followed in the selection of nominated Senators and MPs whose names were gazetted by the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC).

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ODM got seven Senate slots and three National Assembly posts in the list that was released by IEBC on Friday, with some orange party members expressing reservations on the process that was used to settle on some of the nominated lawmakers.

The inclusion of 24 year-old Mercy Chebeni in the list as a nominated Senator particularly irked some Orange party members, who immediately took to social media wondering how she made it.

Speaking to The Standard, ODM National Deputy Treasurer Ogla Karani who was the chairperson of the party’s nominations committee said no one influenced the party or IEBC to select Chebeni.

Karani revealed that the party forwarded to her committee single names for nominees representing the youth and persons living with disabilities to both the Senate and National Assembly, but IEBC on the last day rejected the list insisting that they needed to give two names for each slot.

“I called our ODM Executive Director Oduor Ongwen late in the night, we tried calling many people from the list of our applicants to get their details past midnight but it was in vain. Ms Chebeni and a handful of others picked their phones and furnished us with their details,” explained Mrs Karani.

“She was not the party’s favourite and was even number two on the list. She was lucky because IEBC had to alternate as they had chosen a man to represent Jubilee in the youth category”, added the ODM official, who stressed that the nominee is not related to her in any way.

Apart from Chebeni other ODM nominees to the senate include ODM Secretary General Agnes Zani, EALA MP Judith Pareno who is also the ODM National Elections Board chairperson and former MP Rose Nyamunga (Kisumu County).

Others that were lucky to be among the seven nominated ODM senators include Jacqueline Oduol, former Nairobi County women representative loser Beatrice Kwamboka Makori, Farhiya Ali Haji, Masitsa Shiyonga, and Getrude Inimah.

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On Saturday, Karani lamented that the party did not perform well in the 2017 election like it had done in the past, noting that the dismal performance reduced its share of the nominated MPs and Senators.

“Had we won many seats as we expected, many ODM people would have been nominated from North Eastern, Rift Valley and Central Kenya like it was in the norm.”

Meanwhile the nomination of Ms Chebeni, a city accountant by ODM party was received with jubilation by members of her marginalized Sabaot community, with celebrations taking place in her rural home in Chepkube, Mt Elgon Constituency.

Local leaders from the region led by Peter Sirai who unsuccessfully contested for the area Parliamentary seat welcomed her appointment, pointing out that it was a great honour for Raila to recognize a local for the plum post.

“It is a sign of goodwill from the ODM party to consider someone from marginalized Sabaot community, something that has never happened before. We are very grateful to Raila for honouring us despite majority of the community supporting Jubilee,” explained Mr Sirai.

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