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ODM party primaries pushed to next week as Raila defends 800 direct tickets

ODM Leader Raila Odinga(C) accompanied by National Election Board team Junet Mohamed and Agnes Zani addresses a press conference at Party headquarters in Nairobi. (Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard)

ODM has re-scheduled party primaries after the electoral commission insisted that the exercise must be conducted within the set timelines.

Party leader Raila Odinga and Secretary General Senator Agnes Zani said the nominations, which were to start Saturday will now kick off from April 13 to April 25.

“We are avoiding contravening the provisions of the Elections Act, as outlined by the timelines gazetted by the commission. The Act provides specific timelines for the submission of party membership lists, at least 120 days before the elections date,” explained Dr Zani.

Raila said they discussed the nominations with IEBC on Thursday and agreed on how to conduct the exercise.

“Going by the communication from IEBC Saturday (Friday) we have decided to revise our dates by pushing them to next Thursday.

According to the ODM schedule the exercise will kick off on Thursday in Western and Eastern regions in Bungoma, Busia and Machakos counties.

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Verify the list

Followed by Turkana, Kakamega, Samburu and Narok on Saturday, Kisii, Nyamira, Taita Taveta, Kajiado and Trans Nzoia counties will hold the nominations on Tuesday April 18.

On Wednesday 19th ODM will conduct primaries in Mombasa, Kilifi Kwale, Tana River and Lamu counties.

On April 21st the primaries will be held in Homa Bay, Migori, Nakuru and Vihiga counties.

On April 24th, the primaries’ will take place in Siaya, Kisumu and Uasin Gishu counties and on  April 25th in Makueni, Garissa and Nairobi counties.

“The members should go to the primaries but we had met and explained it to them to prepare for the re schedule,” said Zani.

Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem) has asked IEBC to stop meddling in ODM nomination affairs.

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“IEBC cannot purport to claim that the parties conducting primaries are violating the law. We submitted the aspirants list long time, if the commission didn’t gazette as required, they cannot stop us from going ahead with the exercise, “said Mr Midiwo.

Midiwo wondered why IEBC took long to verify the list, only to postpone the nominations.

“Its sad the primaries set to start tomorrow (Saturday) has been pushed to Thursday. Let the commission do its job. We are not going to disrupt our plans just because of another entities flaws. We are conducting our internal affairs as planned. Let it also do the same,” said Midiwo.

Political Affairs Secretary Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) said the election law stipulates that political parties should submit their list of nominees for various elective posts to IEBC for verification and publication.

“IEBC is supposed to gazette the names of aspirants a week to the nominations. The purpose of that law was simply to reign in party hopping by those who fail in party primaries,” he said.

He added, “It does not expressly stop individual political parties from scheduling their nominations earlier.”

Wandayi noted that the submission of names of party nominees to the IEBC remain an entirely internal party matter.

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Raila at the same time took a swipe at President Uhuru Kenyatta over criticism on issuance of direct nomination to 800 candidates.

“The President should look at Jubilee party issues. We have 6,000 aspirants and only gave 800 aspirants who didn’t have opponents. The president and his deputy have never had primaries, they sit in a boardroom and select themselves,” he claimed.

He added “They have even arranged for 2022 to 2032. We subject ourselves to nominations.” Fida Kenya also faulted ODM over direct nominations, saying it has been following with interest the ongoing party primaries preparations.

“On April 3rd, 800 direct nomination tickets were reported to have been issued to allegedly loyal members of ODM by the chairperson of the party National Elections Board,” said the Fida chairperson Josephine Mong’are.

She added, “No woman was issued a direct nomination. Of concern also is the criteria that was used to select the beneficiaries of the direct nominations.”

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