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ODM party’s headache after chaotic nominations

Busia governor aspirant Paul Otuoma at a rally in Busia town. [Chrispen Sechere, Standard]

Funyula MP Paul Otuoma has given the strongest indication yet that he will run for the Busia governorship as an independent candidate.

Dr Otuoma has been locked in a heated contest with the incumbent, Sospeter Ojaamong, over the ODM ticket in the party’s nominations.

The MP contested the results that gave Mr Ojaamong a win in the primaries, with the party’s National Elections Board calling for a repeat of the exercise in Teso North and Teso South constituencies on April 25.

Speaking Wednesday at a rally in Busia town’s Tax Park, Otuoma fell short of declaring that he would be going for the seat as an independent candidate.

At a press conference at Quill Hotel after the rally, the MP said: “I think I have already made a decision and the decision is that I am going to run as governor candidate in Busia with or without ODM.”

He insisted that ODM should hand him the certificate since he would not participate in another nomination exercise. Otuoma’s predicament captures the turbulence within the party for some of its big names struggling for political survival in the heated primaries, particularly in its strongholds.

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Support base

Several aspirants have warned that the Orange party risks losing support in its strongholds over what they perceived as bungled nominations.

In Nyamira County, Governor John Nyagarama’s win was rejected by his two opponents – West Mugirango MP James Gesami and John Kumenda – who warned of a massive backlash for the party if their complaints were not addressed.

Mr Nyagarama garnered 17,487 votes, with Mr Gesami, who abandoned the race at the eleventh hour, getting 12,126 votes. Dr Kumenda got 939 votes.

Gesami and Kumenda described the primaries as a sham, saying many of their supporters did not vote because of a litany of irregularities, including lack of voter registers. They gave the party 48 hours to nullify the nominations or face legal action.

In Taita Taveta County, there was uncertainty over who between Governor John Mruttu and his challenger, Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu, had carried the day.

Although provisional results were announced for various positions, no winner was declared. Provisional results had put Mr Mwadeghu in the lead with 17,567 votes against Mr Mruttu’s 14,817.

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Mwadeghu’s victory has, however, been put on hold with reports that there would be repeat voting in five polling stations on Saturday, 22 April. The MP has insisted he should be declared the winner, setting the stage for another controversy.

But even as he declared he would be on the ballot on August 8, Otuoma was careful about where to apportion blame.

“I cannot blame ODM as a whole. There are some corrupt people within the party trying hard to deny me the certificate and there are no signs indicating that a solution may be found soon,” he said.

He said he would soon meet with the elders.

At least three incumbents in Kakamega – Andrew Toboso (Butere), Raphael Otaalo (Lurambi), and Anami Lisamula (Shinyalu) – lost at the primaries amid murmurs of discontent over the nominations.

In Nakuru Town East, the results of the primaries were nullified by the elections board following a disagreement among aspirants on the way the exercise was conducted.

In Turkana, more than 80 ODM aspirants also called for the cancellation of the party primaries, citing anomalies. They said they had lost to their rivals because of ‘massive rigging’. The aspirants have threatened to go to court to compel the elections board to refund their nomination fees.

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