Atwoli hosts top Luhya leaders in unity crusade

Trade unionist Francis Atwoli (right) hosted top Luhya leaders on August 19, 2016 in a bid to rally the region behind a single candidate. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Trade unionist Francis Atwoli (right) hosted top Luhya leaders on August 19, 2016 in a bid to rally the region behind a single candidate. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Senior Luhya politicians kicked off a campaign to unite the community on Saturday with trade unionist Francis Atwoli hosting a key meeting to rally the region to vote for one presidential candidate.

Mr Atwoli brought together Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and MPs Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i), John Bunyasi (Nambale), Andola Andai (Khwisero), Ayub Savula (Lugari) and John Walukhe (Sirisia).

Mr Atwoli, who is crusading the campaign, said the Luhya should not give up hope of the community’s political unity.

“We shall not waver at any stage in this campaign despite the insults from those who deride the Luhya and are only interested in votes during election time,” said Mr Atwoli.

The Cotu boss spoke in Khwisero constituency during a funds drive to raise money to buy a bus for Khwisero Girls Secondary School.

The unionist has been holding meetings in effort to unite Luhya presidential hopefuls to unite behind a single candidate who will then battle it out in the 2017 polls.

Last month, Mr Atwoli warned the Luhya politicians against defecting to the newly-launched Jubilee Party after a section of western Kenya leaders indicated that they would be ditching the Raila-Odinga led Opposition alliance, Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord).

They have since risen against party leader Raila Odinga, who spent five days in the region in June on a damage control tour that had mixed results.

The unity comes in the backdrop of disquiet by a section of leaders led by Mr Namwamba who resigned from his position as the Orange Democratic Movement secretary-general, citing frustrations.

Mr Wetang’ula has also been quoted several times saying he is the best candidate to remove the Jubilee government from power.

Mr Atwoli said he is working closely with politicians in Cord, Amani National Congress and Jubilee from the western region including Mr Mudavadi, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo to realize his dream of uniting Luhyas.

“We are ready to engage in consultations with those in Cord and Jubilee as long such consultations serve the interest of the Luhya community.

“Tribalism and corruption have become the order of the day due to poor leadership but I’m optimistic that in my life time, this country will get a president that will unite Kenyans and deal firmly with corruption,” said Mr Atwoli.

Mr Mudavadi, who was the chief guest, said he was steadfast in his quest for presidency in 2017.

“Let’s make no mistake about this. I’m the ANC presidential candidate and my aim is to remove Jubilee from power in the next year’s elections,” said Mr Mudavadi.

Mr Atwoli said he would intervene as an elder and name the suitable candidate to contest the presidency if the politicians failed to agree on a single choice.

“I have engaged a team from the University of Nairobi which is carrying out a survey in the region to determine who among our politicians is the most popular. I will name the candidate next year after they have completed their work,” said Mr Atwoli.

Mr Namwamba who recently resigned his position as ODM secretary general said a new political awakening was sweeping across the Luhya Nation and politicians involved in schemes to entice voters with money to win support from the region were wasting their time.

“We should press on with this noble initiative to unite Luhyas so that the community can earn the respect of those who deride us by referring to the community as cooks and watchmen,” said Mr Namwamba.

Sirisia MP John Waluke told governor Oparanya to convey a message to the Cord leader Raila Odinga about the decision by Luhyas to work with him if he was ready to back Mr Mudavadi for presidency next year.

“Governor Oparanya should stop beating about the bush and tell Mr Odinga that Luhyas will work with him if he supports Mr Mudavadi’s bid for Presidency,” said Mr Waluke.

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