Another political duel in the offing in Western region between Ruto, Raila


Another political duel in the offing in Western region between Ruto, Raila

Another political duel in the offing in Western region between Ruto, RailaAll eyes on the Western region now as DP William  Ruto and Raila Odinga shift focus there on the impending two by-elections.

Deputy President William Ruto yesterday landed in Western three days after scoring a mega win in the Msambweni by-election.

Buoyed by the victory against ODM and its leader Raila Odinga, Ruto appears to be shifting focus to the two by-elections slated for March 2021 in Matungu and Kabuchai constituencies.

The seats fell vacant following the deaths of MPs Justus Murunga Makkah and James Mukwe Lusweti respectively. Murunga was an ANC MP but a Ruto ally at the time of his death, was buried two weeks ago at Makunda village.

Lusweti, a second-term Ford-Kenya MP, will be buried today at his rural home in Sanandiki village.

Both Ruto and Raila attended the burial of Murunga and are expected at the burial of Lusweti, whose body was flown to the village yesterday.

In Msambweni, independent candidate Feisal Bader was elected to replace Suleiman Dori in a mini-election that was billed as a contest between Ruto and Raila.

Deputy President William Ruto at Malava MP Malulu Injendi’s home. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Previously seen as an ODM stronghold, Feisal’s victory in Msambweni has emboldened Ruto in his bid for the presidency in the 2022 elections. His focus now shifts to Western Kenya, another key ODM base.

On Friday last week, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared that the by-election in Matungu constituency will be held on March 4.

Ruto’s two-day tour of Kakamega and Bungoma counties could spark political activity in the region for other senior politicians from the region, who will be seeking to ring-fence their home base.

On Wednesday, Raila’s party declared that they will field a candidate in Matungu as they seek to wrest the seat from Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC). Yesterday, the ruling Jubilee Party also declared that it will field a candidate in the mini-poll.

Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju, who in October declared that they will not field a candidate in Msambweni, announced that they will be seeking the Matungu seat.

“We have invited those interested to run on our party’s ticket to present their papers by Monday,” Tuju said.

The contest in Matungu is already shaping up into a three-horse race among ODM, ANC and Jubilee.

It is not yet clear if Ruto will support the Jubilee candidate if the ward by-elections in Gaturi Ward, Murangá, and Lake View Ward, Nakuru, are anything to go by.

In the two by-elections, the DP’s allies fronted candidates of other fringe parties, protesting what they alleged were hand-picked aspirants by senior officials in Jubilee.

Speaking yesterday at the home of Malava MP Mululu Injendi, Ruto said he is determined to change the politics of the country from a top down to a bottom up, where people on the ground would be the ones to decide.

“For a long time, we have had top leaders telling the people that they have decided this or that, we now want to change so that the small man in the village has a voice,” he said.

Although the DP said nothing about the by-elections, lawmakers accompanying him vowed to deliver both seats.

Malulu, who had earlier ditched the Deputy President and met Odinga, renewed his friendship with Ruto.

“I was literally trembling when I met Odinga, unfortunately, he (Odinga) and governor Oparanya thought I was dancing to the reggae tune,” he said to cheers from the crowd that gathered at his home.

MPs Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Didmas Barasa (Kimilili), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West), Charles Gemose (Hamisi), former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and host Injendi vowed to pitch camp in Matungu to ensure the Tangatanga wing of Jubilee wins the seat.

“You don’t need to campaign in person in Matungu, just give us the firearms and we will do a good job just like we did in Msambweni together with (former Machakos senator Johnston) Muthama,” Khalwale told the DP.

The legislators said Raila ought to exit active politics after failing to win the trust of Msambweni voters.

“Matungu will be the mother of all battles, we want to teach Raila a lesson and show him that his popularity in this region has been eroded completely. The people of Western who know him better cannot vote for an ODM candidate in Matungu,” Barasa said.

ODM leader Raila Odinga. [Standard]
Waning support

The race has already been touted as a precursor to the 2022 contest for Western, with Ruto, Raila and Mudavadi flexing muscles in readiness for the big duel.

ODM performed poorly in Kakamega in 2017, winning only two parliamentary seats out of 12. ANC won five seats while Jubilee bagged four. Ford Kenya won one seat.

Washiali said ODM has been losing support in the region and warned Raila to brace for a battle.

“Those chest thumping and undermining the will of the ordinary Kenyans will realise they have been wrong all along. Kenyans will prove to them that they have capacity to make informed decisions,” Ruto said.

He argued that his opponents were running scared.

“I have stuck with the ordinary people, the hustler whose interests must be addressed, all the panic you are seeing around is as a result of my position to stand with the common person,” he said.

ANC Deputy Party leader Ayub Savula said they will spare no effort to recapture the seat.

“We already have a strong candidate, we will not go for nominations unless things change. The candidate has met Mudavadi and tomorrow, we have a meeting of the ANC MPs from the region to deliberate on the matter,” he said.

The Lugari MP said they are aware of the threat Ruto brings and vowed to defend the seat.

It is not clear how Ford Kenya will field a candidate for the seat, with two factions laying claim to the party.

The faction allied to Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula and those allied to Governor Wycliffe Wangamati have been engaging in a war of words since Lusweti’s death about two weeks ago.

Bungoma Deputy Governor Charles Ngome, who is allied to the Wangamati faction, said the party had decided not to field a candidate in the Kabuchai and Matungu by-elections and that anyone who will vie as an independent candidate will get their support.

“Any candidate who will be fielded by Wetang’ula will not get our support since the Bungoma Senator is no longer the party leader,” he said.

Wetang’ula’s announcement of supporting Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka as a gubernatorial candidate in the county has further widened the rift in the party.



Another political duel in the offing in Western region between Ruto, Raila

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