CLASH OF TITANS

Ruto, Musalia plot to take on Raila in Kibra

Sources say DP has identified candidate from Western Kenya to take on ODM

In Summary
  • NASA sibling rivalry simmering in Kibra with Musalia planning to field a candidate
  • Uhuru's Jubilee faction is opposed to fielding a candidate for the sake of the handshake
Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga
EYES ON KIBRA: Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga
Image: FILE

Deputy President William Ruto and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi are plotting a major political face-off with ODM leader Raila Odinga in the upcoming Kibra by-election.

The Star has established that Ruto — a fierce critic of the opposition chief — is raring for a political duel with Raila, raising the stakes in the November 7 mini-election.

 

It has also emerged that Raila's former strategist Eliud Owallo has officially decamped to ANC party.

 
 

Owallo will battle it out with his former party in what is likely to rekindle sibling rivalry in the moribund Nasa coalition.

It is understood Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula’s Ford Kenya will support ANC and the trio are also reaching out to Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka for support.

Sources said Ruto has identified a candidate from Western Kenya to take on ODM.

This is despite earlier indications that President Uhuru Kenyatta was not keen on a duel with Raila, his new political soulmate.

Uhuru's wing of Jubilee is said to be reluctant about fielding a candidate in the spirit of the March 9, 2018 handshake to cement his ties with the former Prime Minister.

Contacted yesterday, Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju remained cagey but said the party was still consulting over the matter.

 

“We are still consulting. I hope to finish the consultations by Friday this week," Tuju said, declining to give any further details.

 
 

Jubilee pulled out of the twin Embakasi South and the Ugenya parliamentary by-elections to avoid a face-off with ODM that could trigger ethnic animosities that were healed after the Uhuru-Raila truce.

 

However, even at that time, the DP whose eyes are trained on the presidency in 2022 wanted to field a candidate in the two constituencies to test his political clout.

In the Wajir West by-election, Ruto successfully manoeuvred to persuade the ODM candidate Mohamed Yusuf to quit the race.

This gave Jubilee a massive head start against the Kanu candidate.

The formidable opposition that ODM now faces in Kibra has led to a change of plans with the party now planning for clean nominations in a bid to get the strongest candidate.

Initially, it was thought that Raila could easily hand over the ticket to the late Ken Okoth's brother Imram Okoth to complete the work started by his relative.

However, smarting from the twin loss in Ugenya and Embakasi South, blamed largely on lack of strategy including issuing direct tickets, ODM is treading more carefully.

According to the notice issued by the ODM's National Elections Board chairperson Judith Pareno, any interested aspirants must apply to the party before the end of business tomorrow.

NEB will then meet on Saturday to vet all applications.

A circular released by the IEBC says the parties intending to field candidates for the by-elections must identify their candidates by September 30.

In a race against time, the Star has established ODM has scheduled its Central Management Committee meeting tomorrow (Friday) to agree on the method to be used in identifying the candidate.

ODM boss Raila Odinga who is currently in Indonesia is expected back in the country on Friday to chair the crucial party meeting.

ODM national chairman John Mbadi protested the timeliness given by the electoral body, saying the IEBC should have considered extending time for submission of the party’s candidate.

“Why should IEBCE give a whole two months for campaigns and give very strict timelines to the parties to conduct the primaries? ODM Central Management Committee we will meet soon to agree on how to pick our candidate,” Mbadi said.

By yesterday, the Star had established that nine aspirants had picked application forms from Orange House.

The number of aspirants could, however, be higher as there was an option of uploading the form from the ODM’s website.

Among those who have shown interest for the ODM ticket are Imran, former MCA Pius K’Otieno  and ODM national youth coordinator Benson Musungu.

Others are Ketta Onyango, who worked with Raila in the Langata CDF office when the ODM leader was the area MP, and former Embakasi South MP Irshad Sumra.

The 2013 Kibra candidate Sigar James Agumba has also declared interest in the seat while ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna’s name was also being floated.

Secondary school principal Joshua Orero – the Star can confirm – also picked  application forms yesterday.

Already, ODM Kibra branch chairman Jeckonia Onyango has cautioned the party’s NEB against issuing a direct ticket.

“We want a free and fair nomination exercise to enable the party identify a strong candidate for the seat,” Onyango said.

Kibra is one of Raila's foremost political support bases.

RAILA POLITICAL BASE

Kibra is one of Raila's foremost political support bases.

He represented Kibra, then known as Lang'ata constituency, as MP for a record 18 years from 1992 till 2013.

He enjoys near fanatical support in the area which is home to Africa's largest slum.

He represented Kibra, then known as Lang'ata constituency, as MP for a record 18 years from 1992 till 2013.

He enjoys near fanatical support in the area which is home to Africa's largest slum.

With Raila expected to face off with Musalia, a group of MPs from Western Kenya yesterday held a strategy meeting to plan for the mini-poll.

Butere MP Tindi Mwale confirmed that the meeting took place saying they are determined to take advantage of the huge number of Luhyas in the constituency to secure a win.

“As ANC we want to use the by-election to send a message of our presence in Nairobi. God willing, ANC will win this crucial seat . It will be friendly fire between us and our coalition partner ODM,” he said.

He added: “We have a huge team of people on our side who have assured us of their support and I know we will win.”

It is understood that ANC teaming up with Bungoma senator Moses Wetangula’s Ford Kenya have also approached Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka for support.

Lugari MP Ayub Savula who is the ANC deputy party leader told the Star that Owalo has already joined the party and he is expected to be among the top contestants for the ANC ticket .

Savula said all the candidates who will express interest in the ANC ticket will be subjected to a “rigorous free and fair nominations process”.

"Owalo is now a life member of ANC. He will be issued with the party membership certificate sometime this week. Then we will subject all the aspirants to a free and fair nomination process," he told the Star on phone.

Owalo is now a life member of ANC. He will be issued with the party membership certificate sometime this week. Then we will subject all the aspirants to a free and fair nomination process
Lugari MP Ayub Savula

Owallo, a Nairobi-based management consultant, formerly served as ODM's strategist and Raila's aide in the 2013 General Election. He said he lacked an "iota of enthusiasm to warrant his continued stay in the party”.

"My resignation is informed by the fact that my political ideology, convictions and belief no longer has convergence or depict any congruence and common denominator with that of the ODM party, its value orientation and practices,” he said in his resignation letter.

On Saturday, former Kasarani MP Elizabeth Ongoro, whose name was also being floated as a possible candidate, bolted out of the race.

“I might not be available for the competition. There is no poverty of leadership in Kibra,” Ongoro said on Saturday after a service at Mathare North SDA Church.

The IEBC has given the political parties until next week on Wednesday to submit names of individuals who will participate in their primaries. They are also expected to submit names of their candidates by September 3.

Okoth died at The Nairobi Hospital after a long battle with colon cancer on July 26, just two weeks after he returned home from Paris, France, where he was receiving treatment.