Senate aspirants are lining up for the ODM ticket in the Migori October 8 by-election.
The party will interview aspirants to determine the most suitable candidate to present to voters. It has ruled out nomination by members.
The seat fell vacant following the death of Ben Okello last month. Okello, 55, died of throat cancer.
By last Friday, eight hopefuls had submitted their names for the ODM ticket. Two members of the Okello family are among those seeking the seat. They are his eldest son Willis and nephew Mark Okundi.
Others are former Cabinet minister Ochillo Ayacko, former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, former Migori legislator John Pesa, former Knut official Charles Katege, former Kuppet official Kennedy Makasembo and former Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga.
Okello’s widow Helen Achieng’ also showed interest but backed off. The family is divided over whom to support but want the party to consider them.
Yesterday, party chairman John Mbadi said financial and time constraints would not allow them to organise a primary.
“The IEBC has given very strict timelines. We’re required to send the list of aspirants by July 26 [Thursday]. The party organs allowed the use of direct nomination. The would-be candidates are interviewed to see who is competent,” he said.
Mbadi said the ODM constitution provides for both direct nomination and suffrage based on the circumstances.
The party’s National Elections Board met yesterday to vet the applicants before it organises interviews.
Some leaders said the ticket could be given to the Okello family or Ayacko. Makasembo said there were indications some applicants would be favoured.
“We know the process will not be worth it. Some plan to run as independents should there be a fallout,” he said.
Last week, Ayacko withdrew a petition he filed against Governor Okoth Obado’s win to focus on the seat. He lost to Obado in last year’s election and challenged the outcome, saying it was mired in irregularities.
Ayacko ran as an independent. He has turned down President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ambassadorial nomination. He could also square it off with his cousin George Maando.
Other aspirants have opted out of the party vetting and plan to run as independents. Eddy Oketch, John Magaiwa, Maando, Matiko Bohoko and Orwa Jasolo said the party’s decision was ill-advised.
“ODM should allow democracy to prevail and let the people choose their own candidate. This idea of sitting in a boardroom and selecting a candidate will cost the party,” Oketch said.
Traders said direct nomination is bad for business because they will not get branding tenders from hopefuls.
“No one has even ordered for posters. You walk across the county and the mood for a by-election has yet to kick in. Decisions made in Nairobi are bad for business,” Alfred Ochaye said.