majority fears

Kenya 2022: Raila’s Azimio asks weak candidates to drop out of race

By Victor Abuso

Posted on June 30, 2022 10:37

Kenya’s Opposition leader and presidential candidate Odinga and running-mate present their candidacy for the forthcoming presidential race, in Nairobi
Kenya’s Opposition leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga of the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) coalition and his running-mate Martha Karua in Nairobi, Kenya, June 5, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition is asking weak candidates to drop out of the race for elective positions. The move has triggered revolt in the coalition party ahead of the August’s elections.

Will they split the vote? Members from the Azimio coalition are running against each other for positions of Governor, Senator, and MP. It is proving a headache for senior leaders of Raila’s presidential coalition.

Fearful about how this might play to the advantage of William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance, the Azimio coalition is pushing them to withdraw.

For example, in Kajiado county, incumbent Governor Joseph ole Lenku of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), and his predecessor David Nkedianye of the Jubilee Party are both in the same coalition party but are fighting for the same seat. Their rivalry would give an upper hand to Katoo ole Metito, a candidate supported by Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party that forms the Kenya Kwanza coalition.

Such cases are also being witnessed in the coastal, Nairobi and Western regions considered to be Raila’s strongholds, as the coalition faces a conundrum in fielding a single candidate, just under 40 days to the election day.

The fear underlying the decision is if Raila were to win the presidency but without enough representation in Parliament, the Senate, or the Governorate then he would have difficulty in passing through his agenda.

Raila’s running mate Martha Karua, said during a campaign rally, that the coalition can only have strong candidates running for the elective positions to deny their opponents’ victory.

“We don’t want to lose to our rivals, we must sit down and agree,” she said.

Should these candidates agree to drop from the race, they are being promised government and diplomatic appointments.

Internal revolt

However, the move has triggered an internal revolt within the coalition with some parties saying they do not agree, insisting that the rights of their candidates to seek elective seats within the coalition party should be respected.

Justus Kizito who is running for Member of Parliament in Shinyalu constituency, in Western Kenya through the Democratic Action Party, has been asked to step aside for a stronger candidate. He has rejected the call.

“You cannot stop others from running for seats because you want another to win,” he said.

Bahati Kioko, a younger contender, who is vying for MP in Mathare constituency in Nairobi through the Jubilee Party, has also refused to step down for Anthony Olucho, seen to be a stronger candidate, from the Orange Democratic Movement party.

“They have gathered together to fight a youth,” he wrote on his twitter account.

Political analyst Peter Kagwanja says Raila’s coalition has come to this realisation of the risk of weaker candidates too late. But agrees that if the weaker contenders do not step down, Raila risks losing a parliamentary majority should he win the presidency.

He blames poorly the conducted party primaries that saw many contenders jumping to small parties from big parties, which are now threatening to divide the coalition vote.

“Raila Odinga and Martha Karua should take charge of this matter and deal with it respectfully,” he says.

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