Mu­davadi pres­i­den­tial run is es­sen­tial to unify West­ern Kenya – an­a­lysts

His safest bet is the com­mu­nity’s unity and back­ing for an op­po­si­tion al­liance, they say

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - HIL­TON OTENYO @hiltonotenyo

The Luhya vote is likely to scat­ter at the Au­gust 8, 2017 polls if Amani leader Musalia Mu­davadi is not picked as the op­po­si­tion pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, an­a­lysts say.

The Luhya com­mu­nity has an es­ti­mated three mil­lion votes, with 1.6 mil­lion in West­ern and the rest spread across the coun­try.

Mu­davadi ran for Pres­i­dent in 2013 and gar­nered 483,981 votes, a dis­tant third be­hind Cord’s Raila Odinga ( 5.3 mil­lion) and Ju­bilee’s Uhuru Keny­atta, who won with 6.1 mil­lion. Ex­perts say the Luhya vote could tilt the scales at the next gen­eral elec­tions if con­sol­i­dated. The West­ern bloc has tra­di­tion­ally voted for more than one pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, save for 2002 when it unan­i­mously voted for the Narc to re­move Kanu from power.

Political an­a­lyst Charles Weran­gai says the pro­posed National Su­per Al­liance could cause an elec­toral holo­caust in West­ern, and the coun­try in gen­eral, if Luhyas vote as a bloc.

“Mu­davadi’s safest bet is Luhya unity first – that the com­mu­nity will be go­ing into the op­po­si­tion al­liance with a force. This is the only way to re­move Raila from West­ern and cre­ate a plank for him­self and the com­mu­nity,” he told the Star on the phone yes­ter­day.

For­mer med­i­cal ser­vices min­is­ter and political sci­en­tist Amukowa Anangwe said the place of Mu­davadi in the line-up will de­ter­mine the impact of the op­po­si­tion al­liance on Luhya pol­i­tics.

A joint op­po­si­tion will have lit­tle impact in West­ern if Mu­davadi is side­lined, he said.

“To the ex­tent that Raila Odinga re­mains the op­po­si­tion pres­i­den- tial torch­bearer, Mu­davadi is bound to lose the Luhya sup­port, many of whom may opt for Ju­bilee to spite the op­po­si­tion for marginal­is­ing him,” Prof Anangwe told the Star on the phone yes­ter­day.

He said Luhyas will be tempted to mis­tak­enly rally be­hind the al­liance, hop­ing that Mu­davadi could win the pres­i­dency if he is the can­di­date. It is also un­likely that Cord co-prin­ci­pal Moses We­tang’ula will be a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in the al­liance for­ma­tion, Anangwe added.

“The goose is al­ready cooked and he [We­tang’ula] should brace him­self for the worst case sce­nario, that is, play­ing sec­ond fid­dle to Raila and Mu­davadi in the op­po­si­tion,” he said.

The Bun­goma se­na­tor, whose Ford Kenya party seems to have lost its strong­hold in the re­gion, is bat­tling rebels within who want to ex­pel him over what they term mis­man­age­ment of the party.

His stand­ing in the op­po­si­tion is also com­pli­cated by the fact that his Bun­goma back­yard has trooped into the mega Ju­bilee Party.

We­tang’ula de­clared he will run for Pres­i­dent in 2013, but dropped his bid at the last minute and backed Raila.

Re­searcher Lwanga Lwole said the Luhya vote will be scat­tered if Mu­davadi is not the op­po­si­tion can­di­date.

The ground is hos­tile to Ju­bilee be­cause of the resur­gence of mega cor­rup­tion, he said.

Ju­bilee has been try­ing to woo West­ern res­i­dents, with Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto vis­it­ing the re­gion at least three times but the ben­e­fits are yet to be seen. Uhuru plans to visit the re­gion soon to launch the re­vival of the Pan Pa­per Mills in We­buye and ad­dress other de­vel­op­ment is­sues.

Some JP lead­ers are said to be keenly watch­ing the political realignment in the re­gion and na­tion­ally be­fore mak­ing their fi­nal political stand.

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