Stage set for bruising election battle in Siaya

PHOTOS | FILE Mr Cornel Amoth Rasanga (L) and Mr William Oduol.

What you need to know:

  • Justice Muchelule ruled that the ODM campaign machinery on several occasions disrupted Mr Oduol’s campaign rallies, printed posters that depicted him as a Jubilee candidate, and waged a smear campaign against him
  • While Mr Rasanga would be hoping that his incumbency will  give him the edge, the same could work against him depending on how voters judged his record in that short span

The nullification of Cornel Amoth Rasanga’s election as Siaya Governor by a Kisumu court has created an opportunity for ODM protagonists to square it out once more for the post.

Petitioner William Oduol has been a thorn in the flesh of ODM since the turbulent party primaries in January which he claimed to have won.

Back then, he was pitted against party favourite Oburu Oginga, the elder brother of Cord flagbearer Raila Odinga. Although voters seemed to be leaning on Mr Oduol’s side, the returning officer announced Dr Oginga as the winner, a decision that was later rescinded by the Cord elections office.

The coalition went further and disqualified both Mr Oduol and Dr Oginga and nominated the third in the contest, Mr Otieno Okanja. But surprise came when, without warning, Cord gave the nomination certificate to Mr Rasanga who went ahead to win the election against Mr Oduol.

Mr Oduol had since decamped to the National Alliance of Kenya.

Dr Oburu has since been nominated to Parliament and the Sunday Nation could not immediately establish whether Mr Okanja and the other aspirant, Mr Felix Okatch, would be gunning for the vacant position.

But the party has since taken sides with the former governor through a statement by party secretary-general Anyang’ Nyong’o in which he also announced the party’s acceptance of the decision of Justice Aggrey Muchelule.

“The ODM wishes to urge its members and supporters in Siaya County to remain steadfast now and during the by-election when it is called.  The struggle for stronger counties through adequate funding is paramount hence the need for concerted and unwavering unity of the party membership and supporters at all times,” said Prof Nyong’o.

DISRUPTED CAMPAIGN RALLIES

Justice Muchelule ruled that the ODM campaign machinery on several occasions disrupted Mr Oduol’s campaign rallies, printed posters that depicted him as a Jubilee candidate, and waged a smear campaign against him.

“That campaign was perverted to the extent that it would have mentally compromised the integrity of the election,” he ruled.

Justice Muchelule observed that the campaigns were not free and fair and that Mr Oduol and the electorate were not given a fair chance in the exercise.
At several rallies, Mr Oduol had to walk  in the company of his wife and children to dispel some of the personal attacks aimed at his family.

Justice Muchelule ruled that the ODM machine ran a dirty campaign in the election in Siaya County and that everything was done to portray Mr Oduol as a candidate who was running against the grain.

“People who were against the candidature forged his portraits and superimposed those of Mr Uhuru and William Ruto. Siaya is the home of Raila and he had a fanatical following here. To be seen to be against him would have worked against the petitioner. An election malpractice was conducted here.

“The electorate were being bombarded with propaganda against him. The propaganda was above what was ordinarily expected.  The propaganda that the petitioner was supporting Uhuru was not only offensive but also a hit below the belt.”

But Mr Oduol will still have to deal with an ODM machinery that must be seen to be doing all it can to save face.

“The ODM respects Hon Justice Aggrey Muchelule’s wisdom in nullifying Governor Rasanga’s election on March 4, 2013 and subsequent calling for a by-election to fill the vacant seat,” said Prof Nyong’o.

Both Mr Rasanga and Mr Oduol have promised a bruising battle. 

While Mr Rasanga would be hoping that his incumbency will  give him the edge, the same could work against him depending on how voters judged his record in that short span.

Mr Oduol must also work hard not to be seen as just a beneficiary of a petition and also to fight off the ODM claims that only it could guarantee the fruits of devolution in the county.

Six other governors awaiting determination of their petitions include Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Evans Kidero (Nairobi), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), John Mruttu (Taita Taveta), Ndiritu Gachagua (Nyeri) and Okoth Obado (Migori). Senators Chris Obure (Kisii) and Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma) are also waiting for their cases.

Other high-profile petitions awaiting determination include that against MPs Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i), Yusuf Chanzu (Vihiga), Dalmas Otieno (Rongo), Oyugi Magwanga (Kasipul Kabondo), Timothy Bosire (Kitutu Masaba), Mary Wambui (Othaya), Michael Onyura (Butula), Sammy Mwaita (Baringo Central), Chris Bichage (Nyaribari Chache) and Olago Aluoch (Kisumu Town West).

Matungulu and Kibwezi West constituency elections have already been nullified by the High Court.

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