Inside Politics

Gusiiland upbeat over Raila visit as Ruto allies quit UDA

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022 02:45 | By
ODM leader Raila Odinga during a previous visit to Nyancheki in Kisii County. He will tour the region again today. PD/file

Buoyed by defections of Deputy President William Ruto’s allies in the region, Orange leader Raila Odinga today takes his Azimio La Umoja presidential campaigns to Nyamira and Kisii counties seeking to consolidate support.

The two Gusiiland counties could provide the much-needed swing votes, with indications that they are leaning towards Raila’s Azimio movement.

Former United Democratic Alliance (UDA) treasurer Omingo Magara; former advisor on Youth Affairs at Ruto’s office Antony Kibagendi and Kisii governorship aspirant are among those who have ditched Ruto’s camp.

Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi, who was one of Ruto’s key pointman, has also ditched the DP for the Azimio movement. Although the region largely voted for ODM in key positions such us governorship and Senate in the 2017 elections, the party did not win a single parliamentary seat in Kisii county, a situation blamed on botched primaries. The party also lost parliamentary seats to Jubilee in Nyamira.

Raila has on many occasions pledged to resolve the challenge of party nominations, an issue that is likely to be a major test in the ODM primaries. Indeed, many aspirants for various seats in the region have been flocking to alternative political parties, especially in the Azimio family, with the hope of landing direct tickets.

Besides Raila, members of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance have been pitching tent in the region to rally support for their campaigns, the latest being yesterday when Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula addressed a rally in Nyamira. Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka was in the region two weeks ago where he received Bobasi MP Innocent Momanyi into the party and backed Borabu MP Ben Momanyi for the Nyamira governorship.

Yesterday, leaders from both Nyamira and Kisii laid the red carpet for Raila and asked residents to support his State House campaign. Leaders from Nyamira county, led by Governor Amos Nyaribo, ODM national treasurer Timothy Bosire, Woman Rep Jerusa Momanyi and several aspirants under Azimio La Umoja yesterday held a series of rallies across the county in preparation for Raila’s visit.

Nyaribo, who is defending his seat through the United Progressive Alliance Party, urged Nyamira residents to turn up in large numbers to welcome Raila.

“As people of Nyanza, we have decided to bury our political differences and vote for Raila as a block, he said, adding: “A Raila win will be a win for the Kisii community since we come from the same region”.

Leaders in Kisii county also finalised preparations to host Raila. ODM county chairman Kerosi Ondieki said the former premier would address a leaders meeting at  Agricultural Training Centre and a public rally at  Kisii Sports Club.

“I urge voters to listen to  policies of leaders to help them make informed decisions during the election,” Ondieki said after a meeting with Governor James Ongwae, Deputy Governor Joash Maangi and Nyaribo at a hotel in Kisii.

Raila’s visit to the two counties comes barely a week after several allies of Deputy President William Ruto quit his United Democratic Alliance, citing lack of democracy. Okerosi said Kisii was an ODM zone and appealed to residents to vote for Raila.

The former Kisii County Assembly Speaker said Raila fought for the country’s second liberation, which birthed devolution. He urged residents to turn up in large numbers at polling stations to vote for Raila in August. “Let Raila win in round one to avoid a costly run-off”, Okerosi said.

Raila’s foray into the two counties comes a few days after Kenya Kwanza leaders Ruto, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and Wetangula toured the region. During a meeting at Ibacho trading centre in Nyaribari Masaba constituency, local MP Ezekiel Machogu (National Agenda Party of Kenya) joined UDA. His entry into UDA jolted Magara and Otundo, who bolted out, leaving Ruto with South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro.

Addressing rallies at Rigoma, Keroka, Motamaywa and Magambo centres, Bosire thanked Uhuru for endorsing Raila.

Women Rep Jerusha Momanyi and her competitor, Emily Nyagarama, urged residents not to vote for Ruto, saying he lacked nationwide appeal.

“By so doing, President  Kenyatta has demonstrated that the seat of presidency is not a reserve of two communities,” Bosire said. Other rallies were at Magombo, Kemera and Rigoma centres.

Women Rep Jerusha Momanyi and her competitor, Emily Nyagarama, urged residents not to vote for Ruto, saying he lacked nationwide appeal.

Bosire said  that for a long time  Raila has been a champion of true democracy and he was the only person who can eradicate corruption in the country which is at its apex.

“As the Kisii community we have resolved that we could vote for Raila come the August general elections” he told a gathering Magombo,Kemera and Rigoma market centres.

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