Inside Politics

Why Azimio could lose senate contest in Narok

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022 02:55 | By
Azimio-One Kenya flag-bearer Raila Odinga with his running-mate Martha Karua at William ole Ntimama Stadium in Narok town on Sunday. PHOTO/ Emmanuel Wanson
Azimio-One Kenya flag-bearer Raila Odinga with his running-mate Martha Karua at William ole Ntimama Stadium in Narok town on Sunday. PHOTO/ Emmanuel Wanson

The contest for the Narok Senate seat is heating up after Azimio-One Kenya presidential hopeful Raila Odinga’s tour of the region last weekend.

There is a growing concern among Azimio supporters the high number of candidates could cost them the seat to outgoing Governor Samuel Tunai.

 The proliferation of candidates is mainly driven by clan considerations with Azimio posing the highest number.

Senator Ledama ole Kina of ODM faces a tight race in his bid to secure a second term with 11 candidates seeking to unseat him.

Pundits have it that Deputy President William Ruto’s UDA which has fielded Governor Tunai could easily trounce the crowded Azimio camp.

This means after failed consensus talks in the Azimio side, Tunai will be battling it out with Kina, Kilgoris MP Gideon Konchellah (Jubilee), land activist Meitamei Ololdapash (Ubuntu), Kiranto ole Nabaala (TSP), Maloi Godfrey Mapelu (NOPEU) who are all running under Azimio affiliate parties.

Konchella is from the Iruasi Ngishu clan. His entry into the race is a threat to Kina, who is seeking a second term. The pundits say since both will be seeking election under same coalition, they will split their votes in a manner that could give Tunai an edge.

Others inclined to Raila’s presidency but running under Independent candidate tickets are Salaton ole Tompo, Zakayo Rotiken, Jimmy Parnyumbe alongside Chepkemoi Betty (DC) and Kipkurui Isaac Cheruyiot (Safina).

Nairobi publisher Andrew ole Sinkuli who was running for the seat has been named as the Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s running mate and it remains unclear whether he will pull out of the contest with increasingly calls for the former  vice president  to reconsider his State House run and return to Azimio.

 Konchella, a retired army colonel, is adamant he will not step for anyone saying he was nominated by the Maasai Council of Elders and with his vast knowledge on public issues, he is keen to ensure leaders focus on delivering their campaign pledges.

“I have been the Kilgoris MP for the last 20 years. I have vast knowledge in legislation and management of public funds. This renders me the best candidate in the oversight role and to keep the governor on toes,” Konchella said recently.

All the candidates have activated their campaign machinery in what is proving to be a highly contested and divisive vote. It is a case of do-or-die for the protagonists as their differences played out during the Odinga tour.

Apart from mounting billboards in major trading centers, the aspirants are campaigning on vernacular radio stations and are using church functions and funerals to rally supporters on their sides.

In Kilgoris rally for example Azimio activist Hezena Lemaletian, the self-proclaimed Samburu Woman Rep,  warned Azimio could lose the Senate seat to Kenya Kwanza unless Raila brokers  consensus to ensure only one runs against Tunai. “We fear that in this crowded Azimio senate seat contest we might subdivide the votes and jeopardize our win and as leaders we should sit together and craft a strategy not to give our opponents an upper hand in this contest,” said Lemaletian.

Speaking in vernacular, Kina cleared the air that he was defending his seat against speculation in the social media that he had pulled out of the race.

“There are those who are against my second term in office and are using all ways to create a notion that I am not running, this is false and I am in the race and my name will be in the ballot come August 9,” said Ole Kina.

However, during the Azimio tour some aspirants took  ole Kina to task  accusing  him of failure to raise a finger of the plunder of  resources under  the Tunai administration.

“Some of the problems we have in our county are due to failure of leadership. Some of our leaders have failed to summon Tunai to the senate to answer questions about usage of resources from the Maasai Mara Game Reserve” said Ololdapash, a land activist.

But an angry ole Kina was quick to deny the claims saying that Tunai had been summoned to the Senate five times to respond to audit queries.

Ololdapash,opposed Azimio’s ongoing consensus talks, vowing that he will not step down for anybody. He called consensus talks anti-democratic saying  people should be given a chance to express their choices on the ballot.

“We received an invitation by Azimio la Umoja  for a week ago that I never bothered to attend. I have been campaigning for the last three years and all I want is for the Narok electorate to decide,” Ololdapash said.

And as the race shaping up as a fight of titans Governor Tunai, 53, who has served as Narok County chief for the last two terms is giving Azimio team a run for their money as he has consolidated the UDA base with others subdividing the Azimio base among themselves.

Besides his strong network across the county and deep pockets, Tunai enjoys the support of  the Kipsigis community  resident in the southern parts of the county. The Kipsigsis  community  constitute nearly 100,000 voters  and are largely expected to back Tunai who appointed their members  to the Cabinet for the past two terms.

The governor said he was elected on the platform of uniting communities in the cosmopolitan county and is ready to campaign vigorously against leaders promoting negative ethnicity.

“I am laying the groundwork for the Senate campaign with the confidence that the people will vote for the candidates on the basis of issues and especially safeguarding the unity of all communities in the county that I have been riding on in my last 10 years in office,” said Tunai.

Tunai, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and International Relations from the University of Nairobi, ventured into politics in 2013.

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