ODM withdraws from Nairobi race, says it will back Jubilee candidate

Raila Odinga

ODM party leader Raila Odinga accompanied by Mombasa governor Hassan Ali Joho address Kwale County party leadership at Diani Grand Reef hotel on December 29, 2020.

Photo credit: Laban Walloga | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • ODM national chairman said they have been holding discussions with Jubilee to support the ruling party’s quest to recapture the seat.
  • ODM's National Elections Board failed to meet the Monday deadline for the submission to IEBC of the party’s aspirants.

Mr Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has withdrawn from the Nairobi governor’s race and opted to back Jubilee’s candidate.

The development means ODM will back either former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru or businesswoman Agnes Kagure, the two aspirants whose names the ruling party submitted to the electoral body as contenders for the primaries.

ODM national chairman John Mbadi on Tuesday told the Nation that they have been holding discussions with Jubilee to support the ruling party’s quest to recapture the seat in the February 18 by-election.

“I can confidently say that our discussions are around having our partners producing a gubernatorial candidate,” Mr Mbadi said.

He pointed out that they will make the final communication after the talks on the possible line-up are concluded by next week.

“We have so far shared on the phone with Jubilee on our plans and we will make the final communication in due course,” he added.

Mr Mbadi spoke as it emerged that the ODM National Elections Board (NEB) failed to meet the Monday deadline for the submission to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of the party’s aspirants.

Blow to ODM aspirants

IEBC had directed each political party intending to participate in the by-election to submit the names of the persons contesting in a party primary and the date of the party primary on or before December 28.

The decision is a blow to ODM party youth league president Beth Syengo and former Homa Bay governor candidate Sam Wakiaga who had applied to the party for sponsorship to contest the seat.

“I was not even aware that the board did not submit the names yesterday (Monday). We had, however, agreed that the board goes ahead to submit the names but this was not the case,” Mr Mbadi said.

On Tuesday, Mr Wakiaga said he is waiting to hear from the party.

“I submitted my documents following the announcement by the elections board for the interested parties to apply for the position and all I can say is that I’m waiting for the party to finalise everything so that we know the way forward,” Mr Wakiaga told Nation.

Nairobi County ODM chairman George Aladwa, however, said he is not aware of any ODM member who had expressed interest in the seat.

“As chairman of Nairobi, I’m not aware of any aspirants for the ODM ticket. Even though there was that notice from the elections board for the applications, as the chairman I was not informed of any and what we know is that ODM will collaborate with Jubilee in this election,” Mr Aladwa said.

He said they are only awaiting for the communication from President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga on the way forward.

“We are waiting for the line-up they will unveil to us before we start the campaigns. We are confident we will clinch the seat.” 

Spirit of the handshake

Mr Odinga on Monday night said during a TV interview: “ODM and Jubilee will look for a suitable pair for the Nairobi race.”

Questioned why the party asked aspirants to apply for the position, ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said the party’s National Elections Board is better placed to handle the matter.

“It is the board that can well explain what they will do with the names of the applicants,” he said.

Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said nothing stops the two parties from working together in the spirit of the handshake.

The Nation has also established that apart from former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru, there are also talks by some politicians in Deputy President William Ruto’s Tangatanga faction to field former Kiambu governor William Kabogo with Mr Dan Shikanda as his running mate.

Whereas Mr Kabogo refused to comment on the matter when reached on Tuesday, Mr Shikanda said he was held up in a football tournament in Kakamega and would not discuss the matter.

“I cannot comment on that matter,” Mr Shikanda said.

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