Raila man carries the day in Kisumu after brief scare

Elisha Jack Oraro

Elisha Jack Oraro is sworn in as Kisumu County Assembly speaker after he won the election on September 20, 2022.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

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Mr Elisha Oraro who was being backed by the ODM leader Raila Odinga in the race for speaker of the Kisumu County Assembly narrowly carried the day after a spirited fight by his opponent Samuel Ong’ow.

He garnered 25 votes against Mr Ong’ow’s 22 in a duel decided in a second round of voting. The first round saw Mr Oraro get 24 votes against 23 votes cast for his opponent.

The other contestants attracted no votes.

Mr Oraro was the speaker of the last assembly, a house that impeached his two predecessors.

When nominations closed at noon on September 19, seven people had submitted their papers for the Speaker race.

They included Mr Oraro, Mr Ong’ow who is also a former majority in the same House, lawyer Kenneth Oduor Amondi, James Kounah Ochieng, Victor Otieno Odongo, Linda Ogweno Atieno and Nelson Lennoa Jalango Adul.

Of these, only four met the threshold required for the position. They were Mr Oraro, Mr Ong’ow, Mr Amondi and Mr Kounah. The other three were not proposed and seconded by any of the elected MCAs.

On Monday, almost half of the elected MCAs boycotted a meeting attended by Mr Odinga, a gathering whose agenda was to rally the lawmakers into voting for Mr Oraro.

It was the highest level of defiance so far to the opposition leader that has annoyed the rank and file of the ODM party.

For the position of deputy Speaker, only two candidates – Vincent Odhiambo Obuya and Nereah Akoth Okombo – had been cleared, leaving out Joachim Oketch, who held the seat when the last assembly dissolved.

More than a week ago, Mr Oraro got a major boost when ODM nominated him as its candidate for the seat for a second time.

Mr Oraro had a foot in as he sought to keep the seat he inherited after the previous assembly impeached Onyango Oloo over corruption claims.

Kisumu County Assembly building. The MCAs last evening snubbed a meeting called by ODM leader Raila Odinga to lobby for his choice of speaker ahead of the elections.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group.

In a September 8 letter, ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna notified assembly Clerk Owen Ojuok of the party’s notice about picking Mr Oraro as its preferred candidate.

Before the vote was cast, the Nation had it on good authority that the number of MCAs supporting Mr Oraro and Mr Ong'ow, the two main contenders, was a tight 23-24, and that the race could go either way. In the end, Mr Oraro carried the day.

Only 24 elected MCAs attended a dinner meeting held at the Grand Royal Swiss Hotel, as the others allied to Mr Ong'ow skipped it, the result of serious lobbying that could embarrass Mr Odinga if MCAs from his Kisumu backyard reject his candidate and elect someone else.

The Kisumu assembly has 47 MCAs – 35 elected and 12 nominated.

Bribery claims

A source at the meeting said: "I was surprised, even some four nominated MCAs who have not even taken the oath of office can skip a meeting called by their party leader because of money being given to them."

Mr Odinga, who was with Governor Anyang Nyong'o, his deputy Mathews Owili and Nyakach MP Aduma Owuor, is said to have sat waiting for the rest of the ward representatives to arrive before the meeting adjourned at 10pm.

Some of the members who attended the meeting told the Nation that Mr Odinga had asked them to support Mr Oraro.

"I believe that whether one did not support the party's choice, they could have just attended the meeting and listened to what the party leader had to tell them," said Milimani Market ward MCA Seth Adui Kanga.

There were claims that Mr Ong'ow was getting considerable support from Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda.

His name is said to have featured prominently in the discussions during the Monday night meeting.

Though Mr Odinga did not show his disappointment openly, sources close to him revealed that he was not impressed.

He also took his time to revisit last month’s controversial presidential election, saying the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the Supreme Court presided over what he called a sham electoral process that declared United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential candidate William Ruto winner.

It was a night of drama that involved serious lobbying, nominated MCAs hiding, money changing hands and phones being switched off by both camps to try to sway members to their side.

Both sides also engaged in serious heated social media campaigns that saw bloggers and influencers deployed by both sides to outwit each other and rally MCAs to their side.

Neither Mr Oraro nor Mr Ong'ow could be seen in the vicinity of the assembly, while Mr Amondi paced up and down and talked on his mobile phone, possibly attempting last-minute lobbying for more votes.

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