The Star (Kenya)

It won’t be easy for ODM in Western - Ruto al­lies

- MOSES ODHIAMBO @Ali­wamoses Po­lit­i­cal re­porter Politics · Elections · African National Congress · Kenya · Raila Odinga · William Ruto · Kakamega · Bungoma · Mumias · Wycliffe Oparanya

ODM leader Raila Odinga has a tough as­sign­ment in re­tain­ing his sup­port in Western, al­lies of Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto have said.

They say Raila’s sup­port in the re­gion is wan­ing fast and may worsen as the coun­try hur­tles to­wards the 2022 Gen­eral Elec­tion.

Raila was last week­end hosted by Kakamega Governor Wy­cliffe Oparanya, who is also the ODM deputy party leader, in a meet­ing at­tended by one MP and a hand­ful of MCAS. ODM com­mands four seats in Kakamega — the governor’s, Shinyalu MP Jus­tus Kiz­ito, Mu­mias West MP John Naicca and Woman Rep Rachel Ameso.

Naicca and Ameso were ab­sent at Raila’s meet­ing, elic­it­ing de­bate on whether the ODM supremo is los­ing clout in the re­gion.

For­mer Kakamega Se­na­tor Boni Khal­wale bluntly quipped that ‘Raila Odinga’s goose in Western is cooked!’ adding that his trip to Western flopped.

“De­spite even spend­ing a night there, his meet­ing at­tracted no se­na­tor, one MP, 18 MCAS out of 87; and two gov­er­nors who are per­sons of in­ter­est to the EACC,” he said.

Khal­wale said the visit can­not be com­pared with Ruto’s “which at­tracts hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, some­times with­out no­tice.”

MPS Ben­jamin Washiali (Mu­mias East), Did­mus Barasa (Kim­ilili), Dan Wanyama (We­buye West), and Malulu In­jendi (Malava) also ex­uded the con­fi­dence Raila has lost the re­gion’s sup­port. They sep­a­rately told the Star they are not scared of Raila’s for­ays to the re­gion, adding that the peo­ple now lis­ten more to Ruto, and maybe Musalia Mu­davadi.

They ap­pear to blame Raila for the re­moval of Bun­goma Se­na­tor Moses We­tang’ula as the Se­nate Mi­nor­ity leader, Mu­mias Su­gar Com­pany woes and the sack­ing of Rashid Ech­esa as Sports CS. Washiali said they are no longer point­ing out what Raila has done — “as there is none” — but “the harm he has caused the peo­ple through his ac­tions.”

“Raila’s pol­i­tics is not is­sue-based. He can­not point out at a par­tic­u­lar item or project and pur­port to have given to the peo­ple of Western for their sup­port.”

“We can point at many things he has done neg­a­tively. Luhya peo­ple have given up try­ing. We have given up be­cause we feel our sup­port has never turned into any­thing sub­stan­tial,” the Mu­mias East MP said.

Barasa said,“raila is dream­ing. He is work­ing with peo­ple with no or lit­tle po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal. He can­not pen­e­trate Western.”

Wanyama said, “Raila is a spent force. He is just day­dream­ing. The sup­port he used to en­joy is no more. Peo­ple are keen on work­ing with Ruto,”

In­jendi said the for­mer PM could be hav­ing a fol­low­ing in some parts of the re­gion “but has sub­stan­tially lost the fa­nat­i­cal sup­port he has been en­joy­ing.”

The grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of ANC party is said to be a threat to the fu­ture of ODM in the re­gion.

ODM chair­man John Mbadi, how­ever, down­played the sit­u­a­tion, say­ing Raila’s stakes in Western have con­tin­ued to im­prove over the years.

He dis­missed for­ays by Ruto, say­ing only Mu­davadi may boast of im­proved share of the re­gion’s vote.

“If Ruto could not mar­shal votes there when he was with Uhuru, how will he do so this time when he doesn’t have the sup­port and state ma­chin­ery?” the Suba South MP asked.

Mbadi said they have more peo­ple join­ing their camp such as Bun­goma Governor Wy­cliffe Wanga­mati, Ford Kenya’s Wafula Wa­mun­yinyi and Ton­garen MP Eseli Simiyu.

“We did not have th­ese peo­ple (Ruto al­lies) with us in 2013. We have also re­alised that we do bet­ter when Musalia and We­tang’ula are away from us.”

Po­lit­i­cal An­a­lyst Martin An­dati said Raila has to do more than one­off meet­ings with lead­ers to get the re­gion solidly be­hind him.

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