Issues and personalities to watch: Western

In 2002, the late Vice president Michael Wamalwa herded the western vote in to the Narc basket and led the party into scooping all the parliamentary seats apart from Mt Elgon and Nambale, which were won by John Serut and Chris Okemo, both of Kanu.

But with Ford Kenya, the party that mobilized the province into Narc having imploded to the point of death, this year's elections may be determined by how Musalia Mudavadi, Mukhisa Kituyi, Moody Awori and Cyrus Jirongo are close to power.

If Musalia wins the ODM presidential ticket, the traditional contest between Luhya sub-tribes could dissipate as the whole community rallies behind him. This would mean that aspirants for parliamentary and civic seats would have to realign themselves with ODM which might ultimately sweep all the parliamentary seats in the province.

However, if he does not win the nomination, he will have an uphill task in winning back the seat he lost to Rev Moses Akaranga in 2002. But his chances of winning the ODM ticket are very slim. Even within ODM, there is a feeling that is gaining currency that the former vice president is not seriously going for the top seat and that he is a Raila lackey.

Musalia's failure in ODM, on the other hand, would be a blessing for Kibaki. Word is already moving round in the round in the province to the effect that if Musalia does not win the nomination, the Luhya's best bet would be with a Kibaki presidency. The calculation here is that Kibaki's running mate will most probably be a Luhya. This equation brings into the picture Kituyi and Awori, both of whom have a good chance of winning the Narc Kenya's chairmanship on whose ticket the president is expected to run for president. The party constitution that was recently endorsed in its retreat at Naivasha provides that whoever is elected party chairman will be Kibaki's running mate.

Although his schemes are still unclear, Cyrus Jirongo's candidature could complicate Kibaki's chances in the province. The charismatic former Lugari MP, and founder of YK 92, commands respect from some sections of the province which view him as a better negotiator for Luhya interests. Although not an MP, Jirongo's following includes both sitting and former MPs.

Even though he vehemently denied the allegation, it is claimed that he bankrolled the recent abortive coup in Ford Kenya. The best illustration of the allure that Jirongo has in the province is the awe with which Luhya MPs hold Luhya Unity Initiative which is his brainchild. If he goes the whole hog and runs for the presidency, he will divide the province's vote between himself and Kibaki. KADDU, the party he recently purchased could also make a strong presence in the 10th Parliament.

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