Raila team calls off rallies in Gusii as Arati, Ongwae tussle

ODM delegates

Kisii Deputy Governor Robert Mondo (left) greets Assembly Speaker David Kombo (right) during an ODM delegates meeting in Kisii town on Wednesday, while Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati (second left) and Kitutu Chache MP Richard Onyonka look on.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Nyanza ODM delegates conference has been slated for Tuesday in Kisii town ahead of the national conference.
  • Tensions over the highly anticipated ODM primaries also being felt in Homa Bay, Migori and Siaya counties.

Presidential hopeful Raila Odinga’s campaign secretariat has suspended the rallies it had planned to hold in Kisii and Nyamira counties yesterday and today. 

The secretariat’s press secretary, Mr Dennis Onsarigo, confirmed to the Nation yesterday that the rallies have been cancelled. 

Raila team calls off rallies in Gusii as Arati, Ongwae tussle

This comes even as a Nyanza Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) delegates conference has been slated for Tuesday in Kisii town, mainly to clean house ahead of the national conference that will endorse Mr Odinga as the party’s presidential candidate.

The Nyanza Region ODM Delegates Conference Planning Committee, that is chaired by Kisii Governor James Ongwae, made the announcement on Wednesday as it emerged that internal wrangling threatens to spill over to the national event on February 25 and 26 at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi.

Speaking in Kisumu City, Mr Ongwae said Kisumu and Siaya counties will each hold  their separate conferences on Monday before the Kisii event. 

“We will pass resolutions which will endorse Raila as our presidential candidate. We will also discuss how better we can mobilise votes for Mr Odinga,” said Mr Ongwae.

Strong competition

He was accompanied by Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathews Owili, his Siaya counterpart Dr James Okumbe, Siaya County Assembly Speaker Elisha Jack Oraro and other ODM officials. They maintained that the aim is to ensure the region speaks in one voice before the national event.

Despite having other leaders from Nairobi who are usually under the Nyanza caucus, the Kisii governor said only elected leaders from Nyanza have been invited. 

But a lot is being read into the plans, with some claiming Mr Ongwae and his team are only interested in countering the strong competition that he is facing from a defiant Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati.

“We will hold the rallies. Those opposing the meetings will just have to join us. I’m inviting all Azimio leaders in Gusii to join us during these events. Our main agenda is to drum up support for [Mr Odinga],” Mr Arati said.

Mr Arati hosted over 300 ODM delegates at Waterpark Hotel in Kisii town on Wednesday. Some delegates allied to Governor Ongwae pledged their allegiance to Mr Arati. 

Kisii County Assembly Speaker David Kombo, former Kisii County ODM Secretary-General Henry Moracha, and Nyaribari Chache ODM Chairman Wilfred Bosire pledged to work with Mr Arati. 

Preferred candidates

Tensions over the highly anticipated ODM primaries are also being felt in Homa Bay, Migori and Siaya counties, where there is an intense scramble for the party’s ticket amid concerns that there are already preferred candidates for various seats.

Speaking to the Kisii ODM delegates, Mr Arati said he is not afraid of attending Mr Ongwae’s meeting and that he will be accompanied by over 10,000 supporters. The MP accused Mr Ongwae of failing to fulfil his campaign pledges, with many of the factories he promised having stalled.

What remains of some of them, like the proposed avocado and banana processing plants, are just abandoned structures without equipment or staff. 

For others, like the South Mugirango Sugar Factory, construction has stalled, while the soapstone project is yet to start.

He also accused the governor of ignoring massive corruption by his close associates and promised to go after them, if elected.

“We have many ghost workers. I will not go after Mr Ongwae, but those who perpetrated the crimes must be held accountable. I’ll ensure they’re made to explain where they have taken public funds,” the MP said on Wednesday.

Mr Ongwae has often denied allegations of corruption and incompetence. He said Kisii County needs a good and responsible leader to succeed him and has been supporting other aspirants for the governorship.


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