Why ODM may not field a candidate in Bondo

Dr Gideon Ochanda.

Dr Gideon Ochanda.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party may be running out of time to field a candidate for the Bondo parliamentary seat.

This comes after a petition ODM filed at the High Court requesting to use other methods to issue a ticket to a candidate other than universal suffrage was dismissed.

The party, led by Mr Raila Odinga, who also comes from the constituency, was directed to abide by the ruling of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal (PPDT), which ordered fresh voting through universal suffrage.

These legal complications may cause a repeat of what happened in Gem constituency in 1997, when the National Development Party (NDP), under Mr Odinga then, was time-barred to field a candidate after long court battles.

The little-known Mr Joe Donde sailed through to clinch the seat, beating the late former legislator Grace Ogot of Kanu.

ODM Bondo branch secretary Gideon Ochanda, the incumbent MP, said the party had no resources and adequate time to conduct new nominations.

He said the party had asked the court to allow it to use other means to select a candidate but the request was denied. “This has left the party at [a] crossroads because time is limited to conduct nominations,” said Dr Ochanda.

Less than 48 hours

With these developments, the party has less than 48 hours to organise fresh voting and subsequently present the name to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

“The IEBC will begin receiving the nomination papers from candidates on May 29. That means as a party we must conduct everything within the next 48 hours in order to beat the deadline of May 28,” he added.

Earlier, Mr Andiwo Mwai, Dr Ochanda’s main challenger for the seat under ODM, had asked the PPDT to permanently bar the IEBC from gazetting Dr Ochanda as the candidate.

But the petition was dismissed on May 25, with the PPDT arguing that it did not have jurisdiction to stop the IEBC from gazetting any candidate.

The Bondo stalemate is hurting Mr Odinga, who is the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate.

Failing to field a candidate for the Bondo seat will also affect the six-piece voting plan that ODM has been championing.

Similar legal battles have also affected the Alego Usonga and Gem parliamentary seats.

In Alego Usonga, incumbent MP Samuel Atandi is still battling for the ticket with former university lecturer Dr Nicholas Ochogo.

Mr Atandi was declared winner of the nominations held on April 13 through universal suffrage, garnering 17,789 votes against Dr Ochogo’s 3,350.

In neighbouring Gem, incumbent MP Elisha Odhiambo won with 7,405 votes against the 6,384 of Dr Jalang’o Midiwo, a brother of the late Jakoyo Midiwo.

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