ODM leader Raila Odinga is facing a fresh hurdle in his Nyanza backyard as fringe parties prepare to field candidates in various seats instead of joining the orange outfit as he would have preferred.
As Mr Odinga woos new partners in other regions, he has to grapple with rebellion at home.
It’s now emerging that the August 9 polls in various constituencies in Nyanza would be a contest between Azimio la Umoja Movement and fringe parties formed by former ODM members.
Azimio la Umoja will be registered as a coalition party this week after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Political Parties Bill into law last week.
Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said the movement, which comprises Jubilee and ODM, would conduct joint nominations and front a single candidate in an electoral area.
These candidates will fight it out with those from smaller parties that were formed after their members felt betrayed during past ODM nominations.
In 2017, violence during primaries led to a rise in independent candidates. Some of the politicians who lost in the primaries later formed their own political parties.
They include United Green Movement (UGM), People Democratic Party (PDP), Green Congress of Kenya (GCK) and Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG).
Mr Odinga is pushing for a ‘six-piece’ voting pattern to ensure he has the numbers to push his agenda in both houses should he win the presidency.
In Siaya, MDG party leader and Ugenya MP David Ochieng’ has already declared that he would field candidates in other regions.
He won the seat after he successfully filed a petition in court to challenge the victory of ODM’s Chris Karan after the 2017 General Election.
Mr Ochieng’ has challenged ODM leadership to accept competition from other parties.
“If ODM is a big party that commands huge support, why then do its leaders fear competition? Even Raila has competition in the State House race. Do not zone Nyanza as an ODM zone. In all fairness, allow competition,” said Mr Ochieng’.
Mr Ochieng’ has openly differed with Siaya Senator James Orengo, a key ally of Mr Odinga, who is eyeing the gubernatorial seat.
Mr Ochieng’ has thrown his weight behind former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, who narrowly lost to Cornel Rasanga in 2017.
“We need people who have a track record of development and can bring change in Siaya and take it to another level,” he said.
Mr Odinga’s elder brother, Dr Oburu Oginga has, however, declared Siaya an “ODM zone”.
“I heard Mr Ochieng’ talking about his MDG party being a worthy competitor in Nyanza. It is good to challenge political parties because that is what democracy is all about. But what you need to know is that Nyanza, and Siaya in particular, is an ODM zone. MDG was lucky to have won the Ugenya seat in a by-election,” said Mr Oginga.
In Homa Bay County, the UGM co-party leader Agostino Neto and GCK boss Martin Ogindo said they would field candidates in various seats.
Mr Neto said their objective is to provide an alternative political party, where there is fair competition.
“Women have always found it difficult to contest for political seats because of violence and intimidation. Our party is free and will give women an equal opportunity,” said Mr Neto, who served as Ndhiwa MP between September 2012 and August 2017.
He was first elected in a by-election after the death of Orwa Ojode, former internal security assistant minister.
Mr Ogindo had close links with Deputy President William Ruto before he started gravitating towards Mr Odinga.
Although he supports the ODM leader’s presidential bid, Mr Ogindo maintains that Nyanza needs other political parties to expand the democratic space and offer the electorate a variety of options.
The GCK coordinator in Homa Bay, Mr Erick Osoro, said the party has identified candidates in Kisumu, Homa Bay and Siaya.
“The party needs strong members to grow. We want to solve this nominations headache,” he said.
In Migori, Governor Okoth Obado is also expected to field candidates in various constituencies through the People’s Democratic Party.
Mr Obado, who is the party leader, said he would be vying for the presidency on the party’s ticket after serving his second and final term as the county chief.