Why ODM will not hold primaries in Ruto's backyard

ODM's Catherine Mumma

ODM National Elections Board chairperson Catherine Mumma addressing the press at Chungwa House. The party will hold its nominations in select counties within a period of three weeks starting April 1.

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

The Raila Odinga-led party Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) will not use universal suffrage in parts of the vote-rich Rift Valley and North Eastern as it kicks off its nominations on Friday.

The party, a member of the Azimio la Umoja coalition that brings together over 26 outfits, will only hold primaries in 20 counties perceived to be its strongholds.

ODM nominations will take place in Nakuru, Kilifi, Taita Taveta and Kwale, Mombasa, Kisii, Nyamira, Turkana, Migori, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Vihiga, Busia, Kisumu, Kakamega, Siaya, Homa Bay, Narok, Kajiado and Nairobi.

In Deputy President William Ruto’s political bastion of the Rift Valley, however, counties like Bomet, Kericho, Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and West Pokot, ODM will use consensus to select candidates, National Elections Board (NEB) chairperson Catherine Mumma told the Nation.

The process of consensus, she said, had kicked off and the public will be informed when the final decisions are made.

“The counties in Rift Valley and North Eastern which have not been included in the nomination schedule will be managed through consensus. Thereafter, we will update our supporters,” Ms Mumma said in a terse text message.

The process will run to April 21, a day before the deadline imposed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for holding primaries.

ODM contenders

Ms Mumma maintained that the party was encouraging its aspirants to try consensus in order to reduce disputes.

In areas where ODM will have achieved consensus, Ms Mumma said the party will return nomination fees to aspirants who step down.
ODM aspirants in Kalenjin-speaking counties will have a rough time selling their candidacies due to the wave of DP Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

In North Eastern, apart from ODM contenders facing off with Jubilee, there are also parties like UPYA of National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) of Mandera Governor Ali Roba.

With the new political parties law requiring outfits to allow only their registered members in primaries, Ms Mumma said they will apply it under universal suffrage.

"For our party, we are going to use the register of ODM members,” she said, adding that the nomination schedule is not cast in stone “because the process of consensus continues".

The new law is a setback for aspirants.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo, an ardent defender of Mr Odinga, said it is a herculean task for aspirants and incumbents to get their supporters registered.

She argued that elected leaders might be disadvantaged because as they are attending Parliament sessions, their opponents are on the ground registering members.

To tackle that problem, Ms Odhiambo suggests that both party and contenders work together to run membership drives.

“It is a call on aspirants and parties to sensitise our people that without registration as a member, you will not participate. For some of us, when we go to the ground, we ensure that people know this,” he said.

“The challenge is to make sure that everybody registers. My greatest fear is that we are discovering that a number of our supporters are registered in other parties without their consent.”