Raila returns to Western in quest to reclaim lost ground
Azimio-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga heads to Western tomorrow in a spirited battle for the Luyhia vote days after he dangled key positions to the region in his power structure.
Raila and Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya Kwanza have signalled the populous region is set to a decisive vote by assigning two positions to key Luhya politicians.
Raila has indicated he would appoint Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya as Treasury Cabinet Secretary while former Emuhaya MP Kenneth Marende has been earmarked as Senate speaker if Azimio forms government after the August 9 polls.
On its part, the Ruto-led coalition has stated in a signed agreement that ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi would be appointed Prime Cabinet Secretary if Kenya Kwanza wins the polls.
Opposed to zoning
They said Mudavadi would also be allocated 30 per cent of positions in their would-be government.
Ford-Kenya, led by Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, has been allocated the position of Speaker of the National Assembly.
Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo who is leading the preparations team said Raila is expected to land in Vihiga at 9:00 am for town hall meetings where he will meet ODM delegates, before addressing political rallies starting with Hamisi Stadium.
Ottichilo said Raila is expected to hold rallies at Shamakhokho, Cheptulu, Mudete, Chavakali, Mbale town, Majengo, Mahanga, Esibuye and final rally in Luanda at Mumboha ground. Organisers indicated that Raila was keen to address concerns around zoning in the county.
Vihiga senator George Khaniri who is vying for Vihiga gubernatorial seat on Cyrus Jirongo’s UDP party is among aspirants who are opposed to zoning.
Khaniri while addressing his supporters in various events in Vihiga County yesterday dismissed reports he might step down for Ottichilo of ODM in the spirit of Azimio solidarity.
“I want to state clearly that I am not in any discussion with ODM or Ottichilo for me to step down for him. I want to tell my supporters that I am on the ballot for Vihiga gubernatorial seat on the UDP party,” said Khaniri Raila and Ruto’s decision to announce part of his presumptive government line-up raised the stakes as the clock ticks towards August 9.
The move would thrust Marende back into the national limelight as he has previously served as Speaker of the National Assembly and MP for Emuhaya.
Political analysts said yesterday that the move was meant to lock the Western region from Kenya Kwanza’s insurgency.
Marende comes from Musalia’s Vihiga heartland, and his nomination is not only meant to take the battle to the ANC leader but also serve as a count-offer for the Kenya Kwanza deal which has assigned the Senate Speaker to Wetangula.
Marende has indicated that he was willing to take up the new role if Raila wins.
Leaders allied to the coalition said yesterday that they were confident DP Ruto would not short-change Luhyas if he formed the next government.
“We are a team that is not just out to share positions but ensure equitable distribution of resources to our people,” said Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malalah.
“That is why we are talking about tarmacking 1,000km of roads and reviving factories in our region,” he added.