WETANG’ULA TO CHALLENGE RAILA FOR 2017 TICKET
BUNGOMA senator Moses Wetang’ula has declared he will run for the presidency in 2017.
The Ford-Kenya leader will challenge ODM leader Raila Odinga and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka for the Cord Presidential ticket.
Raila has not yet categorically stated whether he will run again and last weekend hinted that ODM needed fresh young leadership.
However those close to Raila think the former Prime Minister is still leaving open the possibility of standing again for president.
“Do not rule Raila out yet,” said Siaya senator James Orengo yesterday.
Kalonzo has also not stated whether he will run for president again but Wiper party members want Raila and Wetang’ula to back him in 2017.
Yesterday Wetang’ula said that he was forced to announce his intentions early so he is not accused of joining the presidential race just to destabilize others.
Wetang’ula was one of the three Cord principals during the March general elections. Raila and Kalonzo unsuccessfully ran on the Cord ticket for President and Deputy President but Wetang’ula was successfully elected as Bungoma senator.
“I am making my intentions known now. I will contest the Presidency in 2017,” the Ford Kenya party leader declared yesterday.
He was speaking at a homecoming party for a Kakamega county representative and member of Ford-Kenya.
As Senate Minority Leader, Wetang’ula is the senior most elected leader in Western Kenya. In December he successfully won a bruising re-run of the Bungoma senator election against Musikari Kombo who was backed by UDF leader Musalia Mudavadi.
Wetang’ula declared his interest in the presidency in 2013 but stepped down to back Raila and Kalonzo who lost to the Jubilee ticket of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.
Since his win in Bungoma three weeks ago, Wetang’ula has toured Kenya meeting Luhyas and urging them to take ID cards and register as voters in western Kenya.
On Monday he met Luhyas in Nakuru and told them that the community should unite and use its numerical strength to push its leaders into government.
“The Luhya are the second largest ethnic group in Kenya yet they have less bargaining power because we do not register as voters and we are divided. Let us end this practice,” he declared.
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, a close ally of Wetang’ula, said that Bungoma Senator will battle it out with Raila and former Kalonzo for the Cord presidential ticket in 2017.
“Whoever wins the Cord ticket through the nomination process will be our flag bearer. But as MPs allied to Wetangula’s Ford- Kenya party, we will ensure that he gets the required support because it will not be business as usual,” Wamalwa said.
The MP said that Wetangula was now the undisputed political king of western Kenya and urged Musalia Mudavadi and former Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa to give up their ambitions to support him.
Yesterday Wetang’ula said that he will soon launch an aggressive initiative to register all adult Luhyas in Western and Rift Valley to register as voters before the next elections.
Federal Party of Kenya leader Cyrus Jirongo however said that it was premature for Wetangula to declare his interest in the presidency.
“We shall again lose the battle if we approach the presidential race the same way we have been doing it. We are a big bloc. All other tribes will come after us if we are not united,” said Jirongo, a proponent of Luhya unity.
Yesterday the Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko yesterday gave Wetang’ula a big boost when he ordered an enquiry into allegations of voter bribery by Wetang’ula to be closed.
Tobiko agreed with the CID director who recommended that the inquiry be closed because of insufficient evidence.
In October after hearing an election petition, Judge Frank Gikonyo nullified the election of Wetang’ula in Bungoma and issued a notice of an alleged commission of electoral offence. Police opened investigations into the allegations soon thereafter.
“Tobiko has today directed the Director of Criminal Investigations to close the police inquiry into allegations that Wetang’ula bribed voters during the 2013 general elections,” a statement from the DPP’s office said yesterday.