Candidates defy Azimio’s clarion call to step down
A plan by the Azimio-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga to field single candidates for various elective seats in the August 9 General Election faces huge labyrinths after several politicians yesterday openly defied the calls and vowed to remain in the race.
Scores of high-profile candidates mainly seeking governor’s seats in the forthcoming election, including former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo, Vihiga Senator George Khaniri, Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri, ODM National Treasurer Timothy Bosire, former ambassador Kiema Kilonzo and former State House official Nzioka Waita vowed to defy pressure from the Azimio-One Kenya chiefs to withdraw from the race and support their rivals perceived to stand higher chances of winning in the poll.
Others resisting the push are former Kajiado governor David Nkedianye of Jubilee, who is fighting for his former seat against incumbent Joseph ole Lenku and Borabu MP Ben Momanyi who is eyeing the Nyamira governorship on a Wiper ticket.
The national polls agency has until Thursday to gazette the names of candidates for various positions.
Bosire who is seeking the Nyamira governorship yesterday laughed off the proposal for some candidates to withdraw as “a good dream”.
He argued that each candidate should be allowed to face the electorate as zoning could deny the electorate a basic democratic right to elect leaders of their choices.
“My position over zoning is that each candidate should be allowed to run on his or her own lane and then the electorate could decide the winner through the ballot,” he told People Daily on phone.
Other candidates seeking the governorship under the Azimio coalition are Ben Momanyi (Wiper), Mwancha Okioma (Jubilee), Bosire (ODM) and incumbent Amos Nyaribo (UPA).
Ongeri, who is contesting the seat through the DAP-K has also ruled out his stepping down in favour of any candidate.
“I have no intention of pulling out of the race in favour of anyone. My eyes and mind are focused on the ballot, period,” he said.
Ongeri said those wishing to drop their candidature can do so but his fate will be determined by voters.
“I have done enough groundwork about my candidature and what is remaining is to be confirmed by the electorate on August 9, 2022,” he stated.
Momanyi too has maintained that he won’t drop out of the contest claiming he is the popular candidate.
Speaking on his behalf, his press secretary Abuga Makori said according to the opinion polls conducted across the county, Momanyi was ahead of his competitors who should stand down for him.
And a furious Jirongo yesterday told Raila’s Orange party to confine its activities to Nyanza.
Jirongo, who is running for the Kakamega governorship, has accused Azimio of isolating candidates of small parties.
Jirongo has not been present in most of the Azimio public meetings and prefers to campaign for the governorship as a lone ranger.
“Raila cannot tell me to abandon my party and focus on ODM. ODM should confine itself to Nyanza. We shall give him his one vote but his people should stick to Nyanza. He can’t come to our political kitchen,” said Jirongo.
“There is an attempt to elbow some partners from Azimio in Kakamega. I have been very busy campaigning for my gubernatorial bid and that of Raila while ignoring any underhand dealings,” he said yesterday.
ODM leadership in the county appears to be focused on the party’s candidates at the expense of other partners in Azimio.
For instance, the party, under the stewardship of Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, is pushing for the governorship bid by Fernandes Barasa.
Political analysts told People Daily that the Orange party is determined to clinch a majority of the seats in the county.
“ODM performed dismally in the last elections and they blamed it on Nasa. I believe they are hiding under the cover of Azimio yet determined to fight for their own candidates in complete disregard to their partners in the alliance,” said Martin Andati, a political analyst.
In neighbouring Vihiga, Khaniri, who is running to oust governor Wilbur Ottichillo of ODM, has asked Raila to let the contenders for the down-ticket seats fight freely for them.
Khaniri last month told Raila to give every candidate an equal opportunity to fight for political seats.
“We all support you as our presidential candidate in Azimio-One Kenya Alliance but this small seat you should leave us to face off with each other,” said Khaniri.
Busia Senate candidate Okoiti Omtatah has also resisted calls for six-piece voting.
“There will be nothing like six-piece voting for ODM in Busia. We will fight for Baba but on these other seats, we will vote according to the track records of individuals. We want to smoke out corrupt figures hiding in ODM,” said Omtatah of the National Reconstruction Alliance.
Yesterday, the Azimio brigade sustained its efforts to broker deals, which saw some candidates drop out of the race in support of their rivals during Raila’s tour of counties in northern Kenya.
During a meeting in Garissa, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka announced that his party will withdraw its candidate for the Senate in support of Haji and rallied the ODM candidate competing against former Lagdera MP Farah Maalim to pull out of the contest and be considered for a post in an Azimio government.
Other candidates who have maintained they will not step down in favour of any candidates include former Kenyan ambassador to Uganda Kiema Kilonzo and Jubilee candidate for the Mathare constituency Kevin Kioko, alias Bahati.
Speaking to People Daily yesterday, Kilonzo insisted he was firmly in the race for the Kitui governorship race and will not back down from the race despite Kalonzo sending emissaries to him to persuade him to drop his bid.
Kiema said the promises of the Wiper Party that he will be given an ambassadorial position will not yield any fruit as he is determined to be on the ballot.
“I will not back down for anybody. After they realised I had refused to budge, they promised me an ambassadorial position. On this one, I have said no,” he said.
Wiper Party leader has been pleading with Kiema to drop his bid for Kitui Governorship in favour of Julius Malombe.
Bahati dismissed as false claims that he had stepped down in favour of an ODM candidate
The musician claimed Azimio members had been causing confusion among his supporters by alleging that he had withdrawn his candidature.
At a news conference yesterday, Bahati accused Public Service Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh and ODM Nairobi Senate candidate Edwin Sifuna of spreading the propaganda yet he is firmly in the race.
His remarks followed claims that Azimio had settled on Anthony Oluoch as its preferred candidate during a joint meeting of ODM and Jubilee delegates.
“You (Sifuna) are spreading propaganda and you want to vie as a senator. You are saying you will give me a job. Who told him I want a job. As far as I am concerned, I have a job and I am still a musician. You are the one who is jobless. Why should a youth fight a youth,” said Bahati.
His sentiments came after Shebesh and Sifuna, who spoke during the meeting of ODM and Jubilee parties, asked Bahati to drop his bid and emulate aspirant Tim Wanyonyi who stepped down for Polycarp Igathe in the Nairobi Governor race.