Drama, chaos mar Azimio rally in Migori

Migori Azimio Rally

Migori woman representative Pamella Odhiambo is lifted to the dias during Azimio la Umoja rally in Migori on April 1,2022. The staircase to the podium was carted away by rival supporters.

Photo credit: Ian Byron | Nation Media Group

Chaos erupted on Friday April 1 at a rally in Migori County hosted by members of the Azimio la Umoja coalition.

The team comprising of Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko, his Narok counterpart Ledama Ole Kina, Kilifi senator Stewart Madzayo, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo and a host of other leaders pitched camp at Migori Posta ground to drum up support for Azimio presidential aspirant Raila Odinga.

The event turned chaotic when Migori Woman Representative Pamella Odhiambo arrived at the venue and supporters allied to the area senator attempted to deny her entry prompting chaotic scenes between her and Mr Ayacko’s supporters.

The two county leaders and contesting the ODM ticket for Migori gubernatorial race.

Build up to the rally, supporters of the two leaders clashed over the venue and the order of preference of dignitaries.

Dr Odhiambo had convened a parallel meeting which saw her endorsed by elders drawn from Suna East, Suna West and Nyatike constituencies at Kababu Livestock market, about five kilometers from Migori Town.

She later arrived at the venue of the Azimio rally at the tail end of the event, flanked by hundreds of her supporters as Senator Ledama was speaking.

"I can't talk when Mama is coming to the podium, let her through please," Ole Kina pleaded with the charged crowd as Dr Odhiambo's supporters pushed her to the podium.

For over fifteen minutes, the woman rep pushed her way from the base of the podium with the crowd, after the staircase to the steel podium was carted away by the rival group.

Her handlers were forced to carry her shoulder high and hoist her on the podium as the DJs at the function played music to neutralize the heckling from both supporters.

“National politics should never be mixed with these small politics to derail us, we will miss the bigger picture of taking Raila to State House,” a visibly agitated Ole Kina said.

When handed the microphone, Dr Odhiambo, called for peace and equal level field for ODM primaries “to ensure we get the best governor to defend the party and Raila in Migori.”

Mr Ayacko kept away from popularizing his gubernatorial bid, and instead reiterated that the rally was meant to ensure Mr Odinga is elected president.

The two are in heightened campaigns for the ODM ticket ahead of the April 13 ODM primaries in the county alongside businessmen Philip Mwabe, Robert Okong'o and former Mombasa executive Seth Odongo.

The three other aspirants refused to attend the rally claiming it was a coronation event for Ayacko.

Despite ODM earlier mooting that the event would solely be a party affair, the move by other aspirants to vouch for Mr Ayacko’s candidature elicited mixed reactions from the other aspirants who said the party was forcing the senator on voters.

“If our brother Ayacko wants to do his popularization which is very normal, he should openly do so but not in the guise of the party. His continued onslaught against other aspirants is uncalled for,” Dr Mwabe said after the event.

He called on the party’s National Elections Board (NEC) to censure leaders prone to violence and keep them off from engaging in campaigns.

Yesterday, ODM county officials led by Philip Makabong'o and Joseph Olala, chairperson and secretary respectively, insisted the Posta rally was an ODM affair.

The leaders have in the past accused ODM chairman John Mbadi of “meddling in Migori affairs” after the latter openly drummed support for Mr Ayacko.

“It is a rumour by our opponents to hoodwink the party into submission. We will not be cowed into conceding a defeat that is being pre-empted. Let the people decide who they want to represent their interests not a few political brokers as is being peddled,” Dr Odhiambo said in a past interview.

“I am not opting out. My train has already left the station and I will not stop at anything less than the ballot whether direct tickets are given or not. I have a strategy to sell and a vision for Migori people. The party is just a vessel for branding purposes. The real essence is the person running for office and what they have to offer,” Mr Robert Okongo, another gubernatorial aspirant said.

The sentiments were shared by Awendo parliamentary aspirant Dr Isca Oluoch who maintained that the “electorate were more important than the party hence the need for them to speak at the ballot.”

“The choice to handpick candidates will refranchise new entrants into politics. They should be given a level playfield to face off with the so called veterans,” noted Dr Oluoch.

 Mr Misare, a senatorial aspirant challenged the ODM national elections board to allow healthy competitions and desist from moves that could result in apathy.

“If the ticket is given to a preferred candidate, as is being rumoured, we will mount an independent campaign as requested by our supporters who have faith in our ability to serve in the senate,” Mr Misare said.