Kenya: Will ODM’s decision to select candidates impact Raila’s chances?

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Thursday, 21 April 2022 15:15

Raila Odinga (photo: @TheODMparty)
Raila Odinga (photo: @TheODMparty)

Through consensus, rather than voting, nomination tickets for most of the top positions were directly handed to candidates in Raila Odinga’s Orange Demoratic Movement (ODM) party ahead of Kenya’s general elections in August. ODM denies that issuing direct tickets is in violation of electoral laws.  

ODM will hand over its final list of candidates to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on Friday 22 April. The party leadership says decisions for candidates were made after various consensus-building meetings among hopefuls who appear keen to unify the party and are seen as loyal to Raila. Apart from candidates for Member of Parliament and Women Representative, primaries were not held.

Odinga’s elder brother Oburu Odinga, 78, who is also a member at the East African Legislative Assembly is among the beneficiaries of a direct ticket. He will run for the Siaya Senatorial seat, in Western Kenya.

Other direct tickets issued to top Odinga loyalists include:

  • Senator James Orengo, who will vie for Siaya County Governorship.
  • Gladys Wanga, who will vie for Homa Bay County Governorship.
  • Peter Anyang Nyong’o, who will defend his seat as Kisumu Governor.

In favour of direct selection

ODM supporter, Jeremie Makis in Nairobi, believes the party has in fact made the right decision: “This is good for our party, we don’t want to divide our party,” he says.

Political analyst Brian Wanyama, a lecturer at Kibabii University in Bungoma says what the ODM has done is not new, and only happens after much research by the party research on the candidates.

“Those handed direct tickets are loyal and have fidelity to the ODM party and its leader,” he tells The Africa Report. “They will all win in ODM strongholds.”

Not everyone supports direct tickets

The decision to not hold primaries for all top roles has since dissuaded former supporters. In Siaya country for example, Senator James Orengo was issued a direct ticket to run in the governorship race. But both former national police spokesperson Charles Owino and politician Nicholas Gumb, were both looking to run in the same race under ODM’s umbrella. In an effort to contest the direct nominations, they have both left ODM to join William Ruto’s United Democratic Movement (UDM).

“[Raila] Odinga should leave us to elect people that we love,” Jayson Sagini, an ODM supporter, tells The Africa Report. He says he will vote for Raila as president but choose candidates from UDM for other key positions

Raila defended the direct nomination of Gladys Wanga – the first candidate to be given a direct ticket – last weekend in Homa Bay, saying the decision to issue direct tickets was in fact good for the unity of the party. “We want a united party, let’s support one candidate,” he said.

However, Ruth Odinga (Odinga’s sister) who is vying for the  Kisumu county Woman Representative, has spoken out publicly against ODM’s decision. She believes such action will negatively impact Raila’s presidential bid and is unfair to others looking to be nominated. “I am opposed to a direct ticket, let’s go to the ballot… The direct ticket does not work for me,” Ruth said on 13 April.

will accept the outcome of the election whichever way it goes’”]

In the Coastal county of Mombasa, another ODM stronghold, Member of Parliament Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir of Mvita county was given a direct ticket by Raila. In response, his political rival and businessman Suleiman Shabal dropped his bid to support him. After negotiations with Raila, Shahbal said he decided to support his rival to keep unity within the party.

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