NAIROBI, KENYA: The battle for the ODM leadership is shaping up, as candidates rushed to beat the deadline for submission of applications to contest various seats in next month’s crucial polls.
As the deadline expired at 6pm Monday evening, dozens of candidates had filed their nomination papers to participate in the February 28 polls for the country’s single largest political party. And party leader Raila Odinga harshly rebuked a section of youthful MPs from Luo Nyanza over their demands for a lion’s share of the 24 seats up for grabs.
Raila, who was meeting the ODM National Elections Board (Neb) chaired by Judith Parleno, snubbed some Luo Nyanza MPs who had camped at Orange House hoping for an audience with him. The former Prime Minister was overheard dismissing one of the MPs who had wanted to confront him, saying ODM is a national party and the election outcome should reflect a national image. The board will today tour the venue of the National Delegates Conference (NDC), Safaricom Kasarani Stadium, to assess preparations.
Raila, the de-facto party leader, faces a feeble challenge for the position, although pundits see this as a ploy to demonstrate internal party democracy. He will battle it out with two other candidates as he seeks to retain his position of ODM party leader. Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati and another party member, David Songok Lang’at, are vying for the party leader position. NOMINATION PAPERS The two returned their nomination papers ahead of Monday’s deadline to become eligible for the February 28 to March 1 party polls.
The race for deputy party leader was reduced to a contest between two governors as only Mombasa’s Ali Hassan Joho and his Kakamega counterpart, Wycliffe Oparanya, had returned their nomination papers. By Monday evening, although the secretary general’s seat had attracted 10 candidates, only three – nominated senators Agnes Zani and Elizabeth Ongoro, and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba – had submitted their nomination forms.
Two others, youthful MPs Ken Obura and John Mbadi, were yet to return their papers after picking them earlier in the day. Larry Gumbe, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi and Simon Lilan are eyeing the deputy secretary general’s slot. For the chairman’s seat, Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok is pitted against MPs Paul Otuoma (Funyula), Manson Nyamweya (South Mugirango) and Mpuri Aburi (Tigania East) in the race to replace former minister Henry Kosgey who has not shown interest in defending the seat he has held since 2007. Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero will fight it out with senators Otieno Kajwang’ (Homa Bay), Janet Ong’era (nominated) and Eldas MP Adan Keynan for the position of vice chairman.
MPs Simon Ogari (Bomachoge Chache) and Timothy Bosire (Kitutu Masaba) and party member Ibrahim Mohamed are gunning for the treasurer’s slot. Kakamega Woman Representative Rachael Ameso and delegates Steve Ringera and Rahab Robi are seeking the deputy treasurer’s post.
Former Standard Group journalists Beauttah Omanga (Nyamira County majority leader) and Denittah Ghati (Migori Woman Rep) will be competing for secretary for information while nominated MP Zulekha Hassan wants to be secretary for special programmes, security and social welfare. Nairobi political protagonists George Aladwa and Reuben Ndolo will once again renew their rivalry when they square it out for the position of organising secretary. Others in the race for the post are MPs Abdikadir Aden (Mbalambala), Irshad Sumra (Embakasi South MP) and Gitonga Wathanga. Even as candidates dashed to seek clearance from the party, political intrigues surrounding the contest for the leadership of the party continued to play out.