Raila Odinga embarks on Nyanza tour amid disquiet in his backyard

Raila Odinga

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party presidential candidate Mr Raila Odinga addresses a campaign rally in Aitong, Narok West Constituency, yesterday.

Photo credit: Robert Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party presidential candidate Raila Odinga will tomorrow start a four-day tour of Nyanza in amid of loud murmurs over his call to residents to elect only Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidates. On the face of it, the visit has been designed as Mr Odinga’s campaign tour in a region that he has traditionally enjoyed a near fanatical following throughout his political career.

In reality, however, it is a fire-fighting mission as the ODM leader seeks to quell a major political storm that involves his own party, those vying as independents and Azimio affiliates over the controversial call for zoning.

ODM candidates in the region are urging voters to only elect candidates from the party in all positions in the General Election.

However, this has not been taken lightly by candidates seeking to be elected as independent candidates and Azimio affiliates.

Apart from the challenge posed by intra-coalition competition and a legion of independent candidates, the region has in recent times witnessed the emergence of small parties linked to the manner ODM conducts its primaries.

Mr Odinga will have to address some of these issues as he starts off his tour tomorrow with a series of rallies planned in Migori County in which his party’s dominance is being threatened by other members of Azimo. Senator Ochilo Ayacko, who is the ODM candidate for the gubernatorial seat, is facing stiff opposition from Democratic Action Party Kenya’s (DAP-K) John Pesa and Jubilee’s Dalmas Otieno in what is likely to be a mouth-watering contest. Mr Odinga will then move to Nyamira County on Friday where another Azimio rivalry awaits him. Apart from ODM’s Richard Bosire, the Nyamira gubernatorial contest has attracted Wiper’s Ben Momanyi, UPA’s Amos Nyaribo, who is the current governor, all who are up against United Demoratic Alliance’s (UDA) Walter Nyambati.

The former prime minister will move to Siaya County on Saturday where Senator James Orengo is facing stiff competition for the governorship from former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, who is vying on a United Democratic Movement ticket.

Mr Odinga winds up the tour on Sunday with campaign rallies in Homa Bay County, where Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, who is the ODM gubernatorial candidate, is not sitting pretty as former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, an independent candidate, is reported to be making significant gains.

To set the stage for Mr Odinga’s arrival, his running mate Martha Karua, will today tour Homa Bay before moving to Kisii County on Friday.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said yesterday that, even though Mr Odinga will be visiting Nyanza as an Azimio presidential candidate, it should not be forgotten that he is a member of ODM.

“As members of ODM, we consider any political party that is competing against us for whichever political seat as an opponent. This is regardless of whether the particular political outfit is a member of the Azimio coalition,” he explained.