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November 21, 2018

ODM stops Homa Bay assembly elections to avoid likely violence

Homa Bay MCAs led by Majority leader Richard Ogindo and Chief whip Sophie Kowenje during a press briefing in Kisumu, Wednesday September 5, 2018. /MAURICE ALAL
Homa Bay MCAs led by Majority leader Richard Ogindo and Chief whip Sophie Kowenje during a press briefing in Kisumu, Wednesday September 5, 2018. /MAURICE ALAL

ODM yesterday postponed the election of Homa Bay county assembly Majority and deputy leader until further notice.

In a text message to MCAs by Tony Muturi on behalf of ODM executive Oduor Ong’wen, the party directed the status quo remains.

Pursuant to the ongoing consultations in regard to the leadership of Homa Bay county assembly, the election has been put on hold until further advised,” the message reads in part.

"As the leadership of the party addresses this matter, we urged that status quo ante be maintained."

A major showdown was expected at the assembly today as MCAs elect the Majority leader.

The race was between the incumbent, Kwabwai MCA Richard Ogindo, and his Kanyadoto counterpart Walter Were. They come from Ndhiwa constituency.

Ogindo welcomed the party’s directive and pledged to obey the decision. He was “removed” by the 31 MCAs before the ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna rescinded the decision.

“I want to apologise for where I might have gone wrong. I want to appeal to the other faction to tone down and work together to spur county’s development,” Ogingo said.

The ward representatives on August 25 convened a press conference, where they claimed to have ejected two senior assembly leaders.

Majority chief whip Sophie Kowenje asked the MCAs to respect the party decision and wait for further direction. Ogindo and his deputy, Ruth Ombura, were "replaced" by Were and Julius Nyambok of Homa Bay Central ward respectively.

Ogindo, however, dismissed the ouster and said he and his deputy were still in office. He further criticised the impeachment process as "unprocedural and unacceptable".

He has been accused of playing divisive politics, lack of respect to Governor Cyprian Awiti, elected leaders, lack of capacity to play his roles and misappropriation of public funds. He has been blamed for the EACC corruption probe in the assembly.

Ogindo is said to be targeting the Ndhiwa Parliamentary seat in 2022 and in the recent past, he has been at a crossroads with the sitting MP, Martin Owino, over development issues.

The two have been holding private meetings ahead of the scheduled election.

Some MCAs had expressed fear over a possibility of violence during the election and had even proposed that it be held somewhere else outside the assembly.

The move to change the assembly leadership is, however, being seen as an attempt by some elected politicians to control of the House as they scheme for the county’s top leadership.

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