MATHARE WAS A DRESS REHEARSAL FOR REFERENDUM, SAYS RAILA
CORD believes its victory in the Mathare by-election heralds the fresh impetus necessary to propel the opposition’s push for a national referendum.
The contest had been billed as a popularity showdown between Cord leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta, and saw the opposition floor the government.
Uhuru’s candidate, George Wanjohi of TNA, came second with 14,082 votes against Raila’s Steven Kariuki of ODM, who garnered 14,966.
Yesterday, Raila and his co-principal Moses Wetang’ula told President Kenyatta that Kariuki’s win was a dress rehearsal for the referendum vote.
“Kariuki’s win shows that Kenyans are resonating with our referendum push and we will not let them down,” said Raila in a statement.
The coalition will this morning launch its five million signature petition at Ufungamano House, Nairobi.
Ufungamano is iconic for it is synonymous with the struggle for the restoration of multi-party democracy.
“Kariuki’s win has confirmed Cord’s resolve to have peaceful and credible elections. We campaigned very vigorously and attracted some of the biggest crowds in the constituency, even as the President went to Mathare to personally attack some of us and demanded respect. We have handed him the respect through Kariuki and this is a precursor of the referendum vote,” said Wetang’ula yesterday.
Raila and Wetang’ula said the win has also strengthened their resolve to remain united ahead of 2017.
“Kariuki’s win shows that our coalition is truly national and it believes in the politics of inclusion and not exclusion. All tribes are accommodated in Cord,” said Raila.
Kariuki’s success in fighting off the TNA candidate has been attributed to his youthful appeal, tribal matrix advantage and the decision by influential Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko of TNA to stay away from the Jubilee campaign.
Sonko yesterday refused to comment on the election’s outcome, but said he will soon reveal why TNA lost. He was speaking at State House Primary School, where he and Kericho Senator Charles Keter attended the annual conference of the Reverend Teresiah Wairimu’s Faith Evangelistic Ministries.
Views canvassed from a number of Cord leadership bigwigs captured a motivated and rejuvenated opposition keen on championing the rally for a national vote that will give Kenyans an opportunity to make a decision on a number of key issues affecting the country.
It was also a revenge mission for ODM, after the Orange party lost in Nyaribari Chache, where former MP Chris Bichage was defeated by Jubilee-allied Richard Tong’i of Ford-People.
The political significance for Cord is that it is succeeding in holding on to its high popularity rating in city politics, while at the same time providing morale-building for the opposition’s push for a national referendum.
Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper and Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya did not field parallel candidates, a strategy that saw their Kamba and Luyha tribes support the ODM candidate in the by-election.
Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba said the victory in Mathare was significant because of its potent political message to the capital city’s residents.
“It was a coded message to the Jubilee alliance that we are alive and kicking and will not afford to let go what was rightfully ours. The Doubting Thomases about ODM’s popularity in the city must wake up from their slumber to the dawning reality,” Namwamba said.
Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang’ said the victory was enough testimony of the ‘sleeping’ government, which must realise that the referendum idea was one whose time had come.
“It is an indication that we are out to win the referendum. We are neither gambling nor guessing. We are certain that Kenyans are tired with the Jubilee manoeuvres to circumvent justice and anchor corruption, they want to make a decision; and so they will,” Kajwang’ said.