Candidates on chopping board in Azimio poll zoning strategy
The next week will be a decisive period for Azimio-One Kenya Alliance candidates in crowded races.
The alliance has commissioned a fresh round of opinion polls which will be used to pick one candidate to carry the coalition’s flag in hotly contested seats.
Those found to enjoy the least support will be asked to step down and back the leading candidate.
The aim is to solidify votes behind one strong candidate from the coalition and improve their chances of beating the Kenya Kwanza opponents.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will gazette the names of candidates for various seats on June 30.
Sources privy to the ongoing plans said Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua on Monday met the coalition’s regional coordinators and pronounced themselves on the matter.
“Time will come when we will seek consensus on the way forward. We want to form a formidable coalition line-up that will take our opponents head on,” Karua told a meeting in Kirinyaga on Tuesday.
She said the alliance will hold open negotiations with all aspirants and agree to support the most popular candidate.
“The exercise will be fair and we will bring on board all aspirants from the affiliate parties and agree who will vie on Azimio ticket. This will be done before June 30,” said Karua.
Sources said the coalition leaders struck a deal to ensure they fielded one candidate per seat.
National presidential campaign coordinator Raphael Tuju has been tasked to coordinate the plan. He will help review the survey and advise the national leadership.
According to Azimio National Secretariat member and ODM chairman John Mbadi, the coalition had mapped the country and identified areas they need to agree to have only one candidate.
“What the coalition leadership wants is to avoid splitting votes, which could end up favouring opponents,’’ he said.
Seats being targeted are those of governor, Woman Rep, Senate and National Assembly.
Those who will be asked to step down would be promised positions in the government should Azimio win the election.
A meeting held in Nairobi with the Azimio Presidential campaign team and regional coordinators cited the governor’s contest in Kajiado pitting two members of the coalition: incumbent Joseph ole Lenku (ODM) and former Governor David Nkedianye (Jubilee) who face competition from UDA’s Katoo ole Metito.
In Vihiga, incumbent Governor Wilber Ottichillo (ODM) and Senator George Khaniri (UDP), both of Azimio, are competing. Former Governor Moses Akaranga is also in the race to recapture the seat.
Kenya Kwanza Alliance has fielded Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi who is running on an ANC ticket.
Sibling rivalry in Azimio is also rife in Busia, Kisii, Migori, Kisumu, Siaya, Mombasa, Makueni and Machakos counties.
While in a tour of Machakos, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka asked governor candidate Nzioka Waita to pull out of the race in favour of his party’s candidate, former Kathiani MP Wavinya Ndeti.
There are concerns that the two could split the coalition’s votes to the advantage UDA’s candidate Johnstone Muthama.
The same situation obtains in Makueni where Governor Kivutha Kibwana and Wiper’s Daniel Maanzo are eyeing the Senate seat.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu has said rivalry between Azimio candidates could injure Raila’s fortunes in Ukambani.
“Those of us seeking seats under Azimio must talk to each other to ensure that we don’t lose some of them to our rivals. We are asking Kalonzo to provide leadership on this,” said Ngilu.
Kalonzo has offered to lead talks to cement the unity of the coalition in the region.
“ We will sit down as elders and sort out our differences,” said Kalonzo.
In Busia, former Cabinet minister Paul Otuoma of ODM is pitted against Moses Mulomi of DAP-K, both of which are under Azimio.
The two are facing Nambale MP John Bunyasi of Amani National Congress.
In Kirinyaga, Karua’s Narc Kenya has fielded Muriithi Kaigai for governor against Senator Charles Kabiru of Jubilee.
Although Nyanza is not targeted by the zoning, concerns have emerged in counties such as Kisii where there are multiple Azimio candidates and significant Kenya Kwanza presence.
In Kisii, a tight race pitting Dagoretti MP Simba Arati (ODM), Sam Ongeri (DAP-K) and Chris Obure (Jubilee), is unfolding.
The three will be battling with Nyaribari Masaba MP Ezekiel Machogu of UDA.
In Nyamira, ODM’s Timothy Bosire and Borabu MP Ben Momanyi (Wiper) are wrestling to unseat Amos Nyaribo (United Progressive Alliance). Jubilee Party has cleared former MP Mwancha Okioma for the contest while UDA has fielded former MP Walter Nyambati.
Then there are Migori, Kisumu and Siaya counties where affiliate parties have their own candidates.
Both Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko (ODM) and former Cabinet minister Dalmas Otieno (Jubilee) are in the contest for governor.