AfricaPress-Kenya: ODM and Jubilee Party are set to battle it out for the Bonchari parliamentary after unveiling their candidates yesterday.
Stakes are high as the parties seek to outdo each other in the by-election. The seat fell vacant following the death of MP John Oroo.
ODM has settled on former Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority Director General Pavel Oimeke, while Jubilee Party on Wednesday handed the nomination certificate to former area MP Zebedeo Opore.
UDA, which is linked to Deputy President William Ruto, is backing Oroo’s widow Teresa Bitutu. Oroo was elected on a PDP ticket.
ODM and Jubilee have been fielding joint candidates in recent by-elections to strengthen the partnership between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga
However, recent jitters among proponents of the handshake could be signaling a different approach in the Bonchari by-election.
ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said the handshake should be separated from the by-election.
“We will compete in Bonchari and still work together on the handshake agenda. I see no contradiction. We are strengthening ourselves as a party and preparing to compete everywhere in the country,” Sifuna said.
Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe on Wednesday said they are ready for the by-election.
“Bonchari parliamentary seat wasn’t ODM’s. We have not done anything wrong in fielding a candidate. Last elections we were the runner-up; we want to become number one now,” he said.
In the recent past, there have been major alignments in the region with the formation of three political camps – one aligned to Raila, a second supporting Ruto and another rallying behind President Kenyatta through Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi.
Insiders within ODM say this is a must-win parliamentary seat. The party didn’t win a single parliamentary seat in Kisii and Nyamira counties in the 2017 General Election.
A win for ODM will be a comfortable way of sending a warning to other political parties making inroads in the region.
ODM candidate Oimeke, 48, will be making his debut in politics. He enjoys a grassroots support base of the youth.
Opore will be banking on his network in the constituency that has in the past earned him three terms in Parliament.