Archive for August 2007

ODM-Kenya breaks as Raila and Kalonzo part ways

In a predictable twist of fate, Orange Democratic Movement of Kenya (ODM-K) finally split as Kalonzo and Raila, the two larger than life luminaries, finally parted ways today.

After hassling for the control of ODM-K, Raila finally managed to secure Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) from the hands of lawyer Mugambi Imanyara who has been holding it since it was registered shortly after the 2005 referendum.This leaves Kalonzo and his registered ODM-K allies to control the party whose symbol is an orange inside the map of Kenya. ODM's symbol is an Orange. Kalonzo was away in Machakos for a rally as this happened in Nairobi.

ODM-K's defacto leaders Chairman Henry Kosgey, Secretary General Prof Anyang Nyongo and treasurer Omingo Magara ahve been battling with the dejure registered officials led by lawyer Maanzo as chairman and Abraham Chepkonga as secretary general. The former are allied to Raila Odinga and the latter to Kalonzo Musyoka. Maanzo and his group were registered after street protests to compel the registrar of societies to register ODM-K after its leaders were told that ODM had already been registered by the Manyara group. For fear of inter-party acrimony and to dupe the government ODM-K was entrusted to a party official, a driver and a secretary to the ODM-K office administrator Janet Ongare.

Now its wait and see to see how the two ODM's will appeal the Kenyan voters and distinctly brand themselves.

But as Raila said, Kenya may be headed for a two-horse race between Raila and the incumbent Kibaki. All will wait and see how Kalonzo will manage to become competitive without the Raila ointment. Power sharing within ODM will be easier with a proposed deal going through. The deal has Raila as president, Musalia Mudavadi as VP, Ruto as PM, Ngilu as deputy PM, Balala and Nyaga as Deputy VP. Kalonzo will have to grope for an alliance with Uhuru which will not have much impact unless it leans towards having a coalition with Kibaki or he just eats humble pie and go back to ODM and dine with Raila as a Foreign Affairs Minister.

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Kitutu Masaba Constituency: Row on new district may spill over

Kitutu Masaba, which was made famous by firebrand politician George Anyona, will be one of the hotly contested parliamentary seats in Kisii.

It has attracted 20 hopefuls, the highest number in the region, with more still expected to join the race.

The constituency falls under the newly-created Masaba District, whose headquarters has become an emotive issue.

The constituency has two divisions – Manga and Rigoma. Residents of Manga wanted the headquarters to be at Manga while the area MP, Mr Mwancha Okioma, of Ford People, wants it at Keroka in Rigoma Division, where he comes from. The Manga residents have moved to court.

Mr Okioma, a first-term MP, rode to Parliament on the Ford-P wave that swept across Kisii when Roads and Public Works minister Simeon Nyachae was the party’s presidential candidate in 2002.

Currently, the leading parties in the area are Ford-P and ODM Kenya.

Two of the MP’s main opponents – Mr Timothy Bosire and Mr Walter Nyambati – are eyeing the ODM-K ticket. Mr Bosire, a former senior economist in the ministry of Planning, is a close associate of Lang’ata MP Raila Odinga while Mr Nyambati, a senior manager at Kenindia Insurance, is allied to Mwingi North MP Kalonzo Musyoka.

Another candidate seeking ODM-K ticket is a former Permanent Secretary Zachary Ogongo who is also allied to Mr Musyoka.

Mr Bosire has contributed immensely to development projects in the constituency. But his opponents accuse him of concentrating on national politics at the expense of the constituency. He accompanies Mr Odinga wherever he goes.

Mr Bosire, who is contesting the seat for a third time, may give Mr Okioma a run for his money.

Mr Okioma will also face opposition within Ford-P from youthful Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology lecturer Abel Matoke and Mr Nyameino Atuti, an employee of Moi University. Mr Matoke was welcomed to the party by Mr Nyachae during a recent funds drive for youth groups in the area.

Narc Kenya has attracted three candidates – Nakuru-based medic Isoe Ochoki, lawyer Nyambega Mose and Cleophas Manduku. During the party’s grassroots elections, Dr Ochoki’s camp trounced that of Mr Mose and Mr Manduku. However, the elections board ordered an arbitration.

Dr Ochoki, who runs Baraka Nursing Home, recently retired from the civil service. He has been campaigning for the Government’s takeover of the Kenya Tea Development Agency and was involved in the establishment of Gesure, Bogwendo health centres.

Mr Matoke, 31, worked at the Ford-P secretariat and is a former coordinator of Youth Agenda in Kisii.

He comes from the current MP’s area and has been involved in youth empowerment programmes in the constituency.

Mr Nyambati is contesting for the fourth time and says he is confident he will clinch the seat this time. He is credited with several projects in the constituency.

A new entrant who might spring a surprise is Mr Fred Ombui Machana, formerly based in the US where he was working in the banking industry. Mr Machana, 40, hopes to garner votes from the youth for whom he has organised several social and sporting activities.

He also launched the Machana Education Foundation, which sponsors three secondary school students from each zone.

Another strong contender who is making his debut in politics is Mr Meshack Ngare, a tax consultant. He is also rich and capable of financing a high-profile campaign but he is yet to identify his party.

Another new entrant is Mr Bill Onwong’a who comes from Mr Okioma’s Abatabori clan. He is likely to complicate matters for the MP who is being accused of introducing clan politics.

Others in the race are lawyer Shadrack Mose, Nyamira Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary Richard Kibagendi, Mr Thaddeus Matara, Mr Ezekiel Angwenyi, and Mr Humphrey Mayaka.

Mr Okioma’s opponents claim the CDF and bursary committees consist of his cronies and that students from rich families benefit from the bursaries at the expense of the poor.

Other issues likely to feature in the campaigns include roads, electricity, water, unemployment, poverty, education and low earnings from coffee and tea.

Nearly all the aspirants have been involved in development projects in the vast constituency.

If clan politics come into play, it will divide the constituency and Mr Okioma may be handed a lifeline.


Kanduyi Constituency: Over a dozen rivals against Wamunyinyi

Kanduyi, represented by Mr Wafula Wamunyinyi, is among constituencies in the entire Bungoma region where a vocabulary reminiscent of the 1992 multi-party elections is gaining currency — Change.

The list of candidates has topped 13 aspirants lining up to challenge him in the December poll.

And every candidate is walking around the constituency emphasising the message “babandu benya chenji” (people want change).

Candidates in Bungoma used to campaign in the past only to ensure that they get the Ford Kenya party ticket as an automatic vehicle to Parliament.

It is different strokes this time round.

Voters have become wiser and are rooting for candidates with credentials, who are likely to perform better than previous representatives at the local and national levels.

The seriousness was demonstrated on August 6 when Ford-K delegates from the constituency resolved that ordinary members of the party directly participate in the nomination of the parliamentary candidate. The party’s choice will then battle it out with candidates from other competing parties .

Now, Mr Wamunyinyi will initially fight for the party ticket with businessman Wafula Maelo, former intelligence spy Ben Wanyonyi and ex-Israeli trained commando Paul Sichangi Makhanu

Introduce thuggery

Mr Makhanu is former State House security operative during the Moi regime.

He is a late entrant in the race, who has vowed that he has what it takes to counter any moves to introduce thuggery by some of his rivals.

He is campaigning in the constituency warning people that he will counter any violence in a bid to win the seat.

“Kanduyi is not a reserved seat, and our people have the right to elect who they want,” he said.

Mr Wamunyinyi made his debut in 1997 through Ford Kenya.

He was to be swept back by the Narc euphoria easily in 2002, beating Mr Alfred Khang’ati of Ford People and Mr Emmanuel Tiboti of Kanu.

Political temperatures are already high following recent claims by Mr Maelo that some Ford Kenya politicians were planning to unleash terror during the campaign period.

He even suggested that this will happen in the entire Bungoma region using “youths who have been undergoing military training in a neighbouring country”.

He was prevailed upon to write a statement at the Bungoma police station by security chiefs, but he never withdrew the remarks, which have been a subject of police investigation since.

Mr Wamunyinyi’s voters in the traditional strongholds of Kibabii, Bukembe, the Township and East Bukusu, are already re-aligning themselves with the entry into the Ford Kenya nomination by the three aspirants.

He will have to fight tooth and nail to regain the foothold he had in the past.

Mr Maelo is counting on the populous Balunda clan in Bukembe and East Bukusu. This is where the Ford Kenya chairman Mr Musikari Kombo, in neighbouring Webuye, comes from.

This alone, plus the shifting of alignments in the municipality, could be a serious threat to Mr Wamunyinyi’s survival.

That aside, Mr Makhanu, who hails from Kongoli near Nzoia Sugar Company, will draw away crucial votes from the Batecho clan as will Mr Wanyonyi, who is out to exploit support from his paternal Bakunga clan and maternal Balunda clan too.

After Mr Wamunyinyi sorts out the Ford-K ticket, then he will have to contend with stiff opposition from three other key aspirants. One of them is his own brother-in-law Juma Mukhwana, who is the Kanduyi Narc-Kenya chairman.

He has gone flat out to deny him votes from his traditional base in Kibabii location.

Mr Mukhwana says he joined Narc-K because he did not want to miss the boat.

Is also controversial

Although he is being seen as an outsider by virtue of his roots in neighbouring Sirisia, he counters it saying he was born at Kibabii.

The Government’s plan to start construction of the Sh1.74 billion Kibabii College this month, after 30 years of waiting, is a credit to the MP.

But it is also controversial given that the first batch of trainees, expected to be admitted next month, will be hosted at the Family Life Training Centre at Tuuti.

It is at this same centre where Sacred Africa and Moi University were to begin offering diploma courses this month. The NGO’s five-year lease was declared “unprocedural” by Bungoma South district commissioner Osman Warfa.

Mr Mukhwana and his supporters pointed accusing fingers at the MP.

Nonetheless, he will fight for the Narc Kenya party with the Law Society of Kenya Bungoma chapter chairman John Makali.

Mr Makali says: “I am firmly in the race and stand by my earlier resolution that time for change in Kanduyi has come.”

The eloquent lawyer, who enjoys support within Bungoma municipality, will be also counting on support from the Balukuru and Bameme clans where his parents come from.

The cosmopolitan nature of the municipality may see each of the candidates earn a slice of the huge vote.

Mr Mukania, who missed going to Parliament in 1997 by a whisker, is also chasing the Narc-K ticket.

He was elbowed out from the Nzoia Outgrowers Company (Noco) where he was general manager and went to business.

He will be counting on the sympathy support of cane growers from around his Bukembe home and the Batecho clan vote, which he will share with Mr Wanyonyi.

The secretary general of the Kenya Union of Civil Servants, Mr Khang’ati, whom Mr Wamunyinyi beat, is a late entry into the race.

Mr Khang’ati, who had earlier on indicated he was shifting his political base to Nairobi, has finally returned to launch quiet campaigns in Bungoma Town and his East Bukusu stronghold.

The unionist is reported to be eyeing the ODM Kenya ticket that is also being contested by former Nzoia Sugar Company managing director Francis Wabuke .

Kanduyi, where the sugar factory is located, is a major cane growing zone whose farmers suffered greatly for a five-year spell when company management was unable to make prompt payments for cane deliveries.

Recent appointments of people thought to be MPs’ friends to Nzoia Sugar board, the dominance of so called outsiders in employment in the firm, besides the control of lucrative supplies contracts by a select group, will be hot campaign issues.

Successful crusade

The recent successful crusade against the Nzoia CEO and his replacement is just a pointer to things to come. It was spearheaded by farmers and Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation Workers.

Failure by the Government to revive the Kitinda dairy plant in Bungoma Town that collapsed more than a decade ago, which catered for dairy farmers from the entire Bungoma and Mt Elgon districts, will raise its ugly head again.

Besides, watchers are keen to know the fate of the planned upgrading of the Sang’alo Institute of Science and Technology into a constituent college of the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) that seems to have stalled.

What is more, the local business community’s demand improved infrastructure, better roads, electricity supply have fallen on deaf ears.

The manner in which election of Ford Kenya officials in Kanduyi was conducted, with perceived disloyal elements removed from the register, sparked off protests.

Aspiring parliamentary candidates eager to challenge the MP were locked out of the party and consequently left to find new vehicles for their campaigns.

The defectors

Although Mr Kombo asked those who left to return, none among the defectors has returned.

Other aspirants in the race are Mr Wanyonyi Waswa, Mr Mulunda Khaoya, the son to a former MP Joseph Khaoya and Mr Geoffrey Njukhilile.

Mr Francis Waswa Mungo, the executive officer of Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association, who hails from Kibabii, has also joined the race on a Kaddu ticket.

Another late entrant is the chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Mr Fredrick Nyongesa Chirure.

Mr Chirure is also a resident of Kibabii location.

He will be seeking the ODM-K ticket, which is also being sought by a former MP Lawrence Sifuna.

The former fiery MP will be counting on votes from Bamutilu clan.

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Ndaragwa Constituency: Reactivated DP complicates matters for Gachara's bid

The revamped Democratic Party has taken the first step to assert itself in the constituency by adopting the old Kanu style of dealing with opponents.

The party has deleted the name of MP Muchiri Gachara from the roll of life members. Expelling what is considered to be errant members is a move that was known to only Kanu of the late 1980s.

The punishment follows Mr Gachara’s perceived defection to Narc Kenya and his action to turn the DP offices into the new party’s premises which, his opponents argue, was done unprocedurally.

However, Ndaragwa DP branch chairman Stephen Muthee explained that Mr Gachara’s membership was cancelled for his failure to remit monthly contribution to DP headquarters.

Mr Gachara was named the Narc-K branch chairman in the recent grassroots elections.

The re-emergence of DP as a formidable force in the area has thrown the MP and the civic leaders in disarray.

Earlier, it was hoped that Narc-K, which was perceived to be the party on whose ticket President Kibaki would seek re-election, was the only force in Mt Kenya region.


But the President has kept everyone guessing, and so far there is no clear sign that he will choose Narc-K.

This has caused panic in the region, including Ndaragwa where politicians who think the sitting MP might deny them the Narc-K ticket are flocking to DP, which is also friendly to the President.

The latest development means that Mr Gachara, who could be assured of the Narc-K ticket, will certainly face an opponent from DP.

DP has dominated the local politics since the advent of multipartyism in 1992 when Mr Kibaki quit Kanu to found it. He used it as his vehicle to contest the presidency in 1992 and 1997.

Ndaragwa, being a settlement area, has a large number of people who originate from Nyeri District, and have in most cases named their farms and societies after their home areas.

With the emergence of Narc-K in five recent by-elections — one in Nakuru Town and four in the upper North-Eastern Province — many elected leaders defected from DP to the party.

They thought at the time that President Kibaki, who even campaigned for Nakuru Town Narc-K candidate William Kariuki, had shown them the way to go.

Mr Gachara went full throttle during the recent grassroots elections, going from door to door campaigning which enabled him and his supporters to clinch all the seats in the local Narc-K branch.

He and other parliamentary hopefuls participated in the polls that saw him gang up with some colleagues to defeat his sole rival for the chairmanship, Mr George Kigunyi.

Aspirant Faith Gitau was elected treasurer, while Mr Nguyo Muteru as well as former MPs Thirikwa Kamau and Kimondo Wagura became delegates.

It was surprising that Ms Gitau and Mr Kamau, who had even paid for this year’s DP membership, went to Narc-K.

Mr Muthee promptly moved to revamp DP and launched his bid for the seat.

He is of the view that Ndaragua people need a leader who will mobilise them to come together and seek local solutions to the residents’ problems.

He laments that poor infrastructure has adversely affected the area.

The constituency is semi-arid and elephants continue to wreak havoc in the agriculturally rich Shamata and Raichiri areas.

New faces are Mr John Kioni, who is yet to declare his party, lawyer Njeri Kiagayo, Mr Francis Nderitu and Mr Erastus Ngunguro Kibuka, a former lecturer at Kenya Forestry College in Londiani.

Road network

Mr Kibuka has been moving around the constituency to popularise his candidacy.

The Ndaragwa residents would like to elect a leader who will improve the deplorable road network that has made them incur losses running into millions of shillings due to spoilt farm produce which does not reach the market on time.

Matatus plying the Shamata-Mairo- Inya-Nyahururu road were grounded recently after heavy rains made the roads impassable.

Mr Nderitu accuses the local constituency development fund management team of doing nothing to help the Kimaru and Kwa Njora special units for the physically and mentally handicapped children.

The units, he says, are yet to get help from the Government and rely on well-wishers for food and other basic necessities.

Mr Nderitu, a former provincial cooperative officer and one-time director of New Kenya Cooperative Creameries, is yet to declare his party, but he is looking forward to seeking the ticket of a party that will sponsor President Kibaki re-election bid.

Mr Gachara has visited Kwa Njora Primary School twice since his election and has recently been pushing for the installation of water pipes to the institution.

The CDF committee has spent Sh250,000 on a kitchen block at Kwa Njora and has pledged another Sh400,000 for a dining hall.

While in the past DP nominations determined who would be MP or councillor, this year’s contests for Narc-K and DP tickets will be merely a dress rehearsal for the General Election proper.

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Webuye Constituency: Cane growing main issue as Kombo seeks another term

Campaigns in the constituency are intensifying as the incumbent, Local Government minister Musikari Kombo, contemplates joining the presidential race.

And violence has set in as his possible rivals’ supporters clash. Mr Kombo, the Ford Kenya chairman, has often said he in the presidential race, although his actions of late do not show it.

And the fact that he, unlike politicians in other parties, is yet to launch his vision for the top job further strengthens the people’s doubts about his intentions.

Kenyans in general and the people of Webuye in particular are waiting anxiously for the minister to state categorically that, indeed, he will go for the top seat.

Curiously, his close confidants in Ford Kenya such as Cabinet minister Noah Wekesa, Foreign Affairs assistant minister Moses Wetang’ula and Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi have lately been busy trying to cobble together a grand coalition to eventually spearhead President Kibaki’s re-election bid.

This development has left Mr Kombo’s supporters confused over whether or not he will go for the presidency.

In his Webuye home turf, the minister’s campaign ship is cruising in turbulent waters, with nine possible candidates — eight men and a woman — lined up to try to oust him.

Some 7,177 voters were added to the roll to bring the tally to 82,621 that are expected to participate in the election.

Mr Kombo is assured of the Ford-K ticket since none of his rivals has expressed interest to challenge him from within the party he chairs.

Perhaps they have silently acknowledged a remark he is said to have made some time ago to the effect that he could not sign his own way out of Parliament by missing the party ticket.

As chairman, Mr Kombo is the man who clears party candidates.

In Webuye and indeed the entire Bungoma district, the minister has won praise for fighting hard to create new districts.

His Bungoma East district is made up of Webuye and Ndivisi divisions with, headquarters at the town.

Another feather in his cap is having presided over the recarpetting last year of roads in Webuye town at a cost of Sh125 million. He was also instrumental in the establishment of a medical training centre in the town with money from the Constituency Development Fund.

But his critics accuse him of having, in his capacity as Cabinet minister, failed to generate resources to develop infrastructure in Western province and to have local people appointed to plum jobs in the public service.

Mr Kombo has been MP since 1992, except for a brief period between 1995 and 1997 after being found guilty of an election offence for oathing known as khulia silulu.

In 2002, he trounced arch-rivals Alfred Wekesa Sambu and Joash Wamang’oli.

Mr Sambu, who claims to have been rigged out at the Narc nomination stage in favour of Mr Kombo, is back in the race, having been elected the local Narc Kenya chairman.

He vows to eclipse his long-time nemesis this time round.

Mr Sambu has been contesting the seat and losing to either Mr Wamang’oli, Mr Kombo or Mr Saulo Busolo since 1988.

To confirm his candidacy, Mr Wamang’oli, who has been out of Parliament since 1992, says: “I am running but I have yet to make up my mind on which party ticket although I am still technically in Kanu.

“In fact, it is only I and Mr Kombo who are serious contenders.”

But Mr Sambu, a former Kenya Football Federation chairman, is expected to pose quite a formidable challenge for Mr Kombo.

His supporters, the Tachoni of Ndivisi location, have joined Narc-K in droves.

Mr Sambu is widely expected to outshine Mr Mike Chetekei who will be challenging him for the Narc-K ticket.

Mr Busolo, the Kenya Sugar Board chairman who served as MP between 1995 and 1997, is said to be also in the race.

He has the support of elders and academics in the Nzoia sugar belt that he represents, especially after the management changes at Nzoia Sugar Company early this month.

Mr Busolo has yet to declare his party of choice, although he has been a regular visitor to cane growers’ meetings in the area since early this year.

So he is likely to garner quite a chunk of the vote in Bokoli where Mr Kombo also expects support.

This bloc and that of youths may also be eaten into by Mr Dan Wanyama who has also thrown his hat into the ring, and this may not be healthy for the minister.

Mr Wanyama, a key personality in the Kenya Volleyball Federation circles who is from Miendo told the Saturday Nation that he is definitely running on a Kaddu ticket.

Signs that Mr Kombo could face a difficult campaign began to manifest themselves last weekend when Mr Juma Remi was stabbed with a knife in a clash between his supporters and a group who shouted anti-Kombo slogans near Chebosi secondary school as his entourage headed for Bokoli.

Mr Remi was admitted to the Webuye district hospital, but the doctors said he was out of danger.

Violence also reared its ugly head a fortnight ago when Dr Kibanane Ngome, a Kenyatta University lecturer who is also a possible candidate, was attacked by youths outside a Webuye hotel.

The incident happened shortly after he dismissed the minister’s bid for another term during a funeral at Nabuyole.

Dr Ngome, a fiery public speaker, was injured and treated at the provincial general hospital in Kakamega town. He has since been discharged, but still moves about on crutches.

He is yet to make public the party whose ticket he is seeking , but he says he is definitely in the race despite the setback.

Those battling for the ODM Kenya ticket are Ms Roselinda Simiyu, the Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation Workers, and Mr Leonard Wakoli.

Bishop Peter Murunga of the Grace Community Church says he is in Nairobi businessman Kamlesh Pattni’s Kenda party as the vehicle on which to champion his bid for election after losing out to Mr Sambu during the Narc-Kenya grassroots elections.

A week ago, the Rev Murunga hosted Mr Pattni in Webuye for a prayer session at Muliro Gardens and held two fund-raising meetings to start his campaign.

He accuses the incumbent of failing to offer what he terms focused leadership.

Mr Wafula Wanasi is another possible candidate on a Republican Party of Kenya ticket.

During the 2005 referendum campaigns, Mr Kombo helped to mobilise voters for the pro-government Banana side that enabled Webuye to get 22,231 votes against 6,068 for Orange.

Then, there was talk that he would be appointed Vice-President if the residents supported the constitution draft. Critics are now wondering why this did not happen.

When he temporarily rejected re-appointment to the reconstituted Cabinet after the referendum his star rose overnight.

But when he accepted it after his allies — Mr John Munyes, Mr Soita Shitanda, Dr Noah Wekesa and Mr Moses Akaranga — were made ministers, many people changed their minds almost as fast.

Grassroots polls

Then came the Ford Kenya grassroots elections at which most aspiring parliamentary candidates were locked out, further denting Mr Kombo’s image.

The party was labelled as a closed shop in which the sitting MPs already had nominations.

In Webuye, for instance, Mr Kombo’s cronies swept the board in the controversial elections, sparking defections to other parties, key among them Narc Kenya, ODM Kenya and Mr Cyrus Jirongo’s Kaddu.

It is highly likely that Ms Simiyu will take away most of the ODM Kenya support in Webuye Town, which has been Mr Kombo’s stronghold.

A planned retrenchment of workers at Nzoia Sugar Company, outsourcing and lack of job security there are also being blamed on the current political leadership of which the incumbent is part, as is the award of lucrative supply contracts.

Failure by the leaders to lobby for higher cane prices is also now in sharp focus as the farmers gripe that they are being exploited by the millers.

Promises made in 2002 to improve the marketing of agricultural produce, particularly potatoes and bananas, to eliminate exploitation by middlemen have yet to be fulfilled and the voters are waiting to pass their verdict.

Webuye hosts the Pan Africa Paper Mills factory set up in the early 1970s whose management is accused of environmental degradation through the pollution of air and water systems.

And the residents claim their MP has never strongly fought the menace. Poor working conditions is another issue. When he took over Ford Kenya in 2003 following the death of Vice-President Michael Wamalwa, the party had more than 22 MPs firmly in its ranks.

The number has since dwindled, with other MPs joining ranks with Mr Shitanda’s New Ford Kenya party.

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Budalangi Constituency: New candidates change equation for MP

Two new entrants in the race for Budalangi parliamentary seat held by Water assistant minister Raphael Wanjala has changed the equation.

Candidates who have declared interest for the seat would have to go back to the drawing board after entry of Mr Raphael Namudi Wanyama and Mr George Okado.

And Mr Wanjala victory in an election petition filed by Mr Peter Onalo has boosted his fortunes and given him the greenlight to embark on re-election campaigns.

Sugar company

Mr Okado and Ms Cynthia Mutero Kwedho will be fighting for the Narc-K ticket though the party is yet to take root in the region.

Mr Wanyama is a former procurement manager at Mumias Sugar Company.

He will be facing his nephew, Nairobi based lawyer Ababu Namwamba and are likely to split votes in Bunyala South where they come from.

But first, Mr Namwamba will have to fight for the ODM-K ticket with Mr John Osogo, son of former MP James Osogo.

Mr Wanyama who is yet to declare his political party, says he is still weighing his options.

His entry is eating into Mr Namwamba’s perceived stronghold.

He has been calling for proper use of constituency development funds and measures to prevent frequent floods in the area.

Mr Wanyama,58, worked with East Africa community until 1977.

He was redeployed to various ministries as a procurement officer after the organisation collapsed before he moved to Mumias.

Mr Wanjala enjoys substantial following but re-alignments among key political parties could change his fortunes.

ODM-Kenya and Narc-Kenya are yet to find equilibrium and Ford-Kenya which the assistant minister supports, is yet to get its footing in emerging alliances.

Mr Wanjala is likely to opt for a political group that is acceptable to his constituents.

Flower party

Mr Namwamba enjoys considerable support from young people but it is not clear if this will translate into votes come election day.

Ford-K has goodwill in the area due to wrangles in ODM-K and uncertainty in Narc-K. Even as the flower party competes with the Orange group, it is unpopular among Budalangi residents.

It widely held that President Kibaki defend his seat on Narc-K ticket but he has not made a personal declaration in support of the party, creating anxiety on its flag-bearer a few months to the polls.

On the other hand, wrangles in ODM-Kenya have derailed efforts to identify a presidential candidate.

Mr Wanjala’s party leader, Local Government minister Musikari Kombo declared he will be in contest for State House, but his support for President Kibaki sends mixed signals.

Mr Wanjala is popular for visiting the area frequently and addressing people’s problems.

Planned opening of Port Victoria market today by President Kibaki is expected to be major boost for him.

His style of politics, bringing together supporters of former MPs Mr Osogo and the late Peter Okondo has endeared him to people.

The assistant minister also claims he had started many CDF projects in the area to benefit his constituents.

Mr Namwamba is expected to be the minister’s key opponent due to support from ODM presidential candidates Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi who have visited the area and went around with him.

However, he has been accused of flying on the ODM principals’ wings.

Further, he has been criticised for ignoring elderly voters and of rarely visiting the region unless there are ODM rallies. However, the lawyer has been supporting farming activities at Bunyala irrigation scheme.

He has set up the Ababu Namwamba Foundation to sponsor less fortunate children access education.

Mr Osogo’s campaigns were slowed down when he lost his wife recently but he has returned making appearances.

His youthfulness endears him to youngsters, but he will have to convince voters that he is not riding on his family’s big name.

Ms Kwedho is a common face in Budalangi is believed to have the blessing of Narc-K secretary-general Dr Mukhisa Kituyi. “I believe I will be able to get that seat as women leaders understand issues that affect them and children very well,” she says.

Irrigation scheme

Poor road network in is set to among issues candidates will be raising.

That is why ongoing construction of 75 kilometres Bumala-Port -Victoria road likely to ease transportation of fish and rice, will be another plus for Mr Wanjala.

In addition, the MP will stake claim to success of Bunyala irrigation scheme and booming fish industry. Improved health facilities, construction of more classes using CDF money may earn him support.

Nairobi lawyer Peter Onalo has not declared whether he will contest the seat after losing the petition.

Mr Okado, a computer expert based in Nairobi, launched his campaigns late but could catch up with the rest given his fast pace.

However, development records, allocation of CDF money and choice of political parties will be among key determining issues for one’s victory.

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Kandara Constituency: Freedom hero's son enters duel for Toro's seat

A son of former freedom hero Bildard Kaggia has joined the growing list of aspirants for the Kandara parliamentary seat occupied by Roads assistant minister Joshua Toro.

Mr Mwaganu wa Kaggia, 57, is the latest entry into the race for the seat which has attracted at least 14 people.

He hopes to ride on his father’s legendary name.

Senior Kaggia was among the Kapenguria Six pre-independence freedom fighters who were imprisoned with founding President Jomo Kenyatta.

Mr Achieng’ Oneko was the last of the six to die last May. Others were Mr Paul Ngei, Mr Kung’u Karumba and Mr Fred Kubai.

Party banned

Mr Kaggia represented Kandara between 1963 and 1966 when he differed with Mr Kenyatta and walked out of Kanu with the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga to start the Kenya Peoples Union that was later banned.

He failed to re-capture the seat in the subsequent “little elections” on the KPU ticket which had become so unpopular in Central Province because it was perceived to be undermining Mr Kenyatta’s authority.

Mr Kaggia retreated to the village where he operated a posho mill business.

Mr Mwaganu has just returned from the United States where was engaged in consultancy. His ambition is to pick up from where his father left and hopes to represent the constituency once held by the freedom fighter.

Mr Mwaganu who has associated himself with human rights activities in the recent past, has the difficult task of trying to fit in his father’s shoes in the wake of stiff competition from Mr Toro.

He has been supporting orphaned children and building homes for the destitute and HIV/ Aids patients.

Many voters in Kandara feel that Mr Kaggia got a raw deal from both the Kenyatta and Moi regimes.

As a result, his eldest son’s entry into politics may elicit sympathy votes.

Although the Kibaki administration repaired his rural house and built a mausoleum for the freedom hero besides starting the tarmacking of an access road to his home, the family feels it was not enough compensation and that the gesture came too late in the day.

“I have been compelled to join politics as a way of offering transparent and just leadership and effectively tackle the myriad problems that continue to ravage the people of Kandara,” says Mr Mwaganu.

Agriculture, he adds, will be his main focus and blames dishonest leadership for the woes facing farmers particularly in the coffee sub-sector.

However, Mr Mwaganu’s debut into elective politics in Kandara could prove to be an uphill task.

Mr Toro is tactful politician who has been credited for various CDF projects.

Still, he will be fighting a crowd of other aspirants who had entered the race much earlier and are more familiar with the grassroots.

They rights advocate Alice Muthoni Wahome, retired Nairobi deputy clerk Mr P.M.G Kamau, civic leader Maina wa Kamau, Mombasa-based hotelier Daniel Kihiko and architect David Muraya.

Others are retired banker Gakumo Warui, Mr Mburu Mwaura, an engineer, Thika-based advocate Kamau Mbiyu, Bishop Boniface Karechio and Ms Veronica Waithera.

Former area MP Gacuru wa Karenge who served between 1992 and 1997, is also fighting for a place in the next Parliament.

Also in the race is Mr William Mugo, a retired education officer who runs a number of private schools.

Ms Wahome entered the duel with a bang and pulled a surprise by winning the recent Narc-K elections, beating at least five opponents and the incumbent who, however, staged a parallel election.

Married in Nyeri

She has often shrugged off criticism about her being married in Nyeri.

She seems to be winning favour in her birth place but Mr Toro remains undisturbed by the onslaught he faces and is confident to retain the seat for the third time.

He claims credit for ongoing reconstruction and recarpeting of the Thika-Kandara-Githumu and Kabati-Kagundu-ini-Kariua roads.

He has initiated repair of roads in the constituency including Makenzi-Muruka-Kandara and Karugia-Ngurwe-ini-Kagira-Turuturu stretches.

All indications are that the MP has his act sewn up.

His ouster would require united opposition by his opponents but such a move is most unlikely.

Party politics will also play a part and whoever clinches either the Narc-K or Democratic Party — both friendly to Mr Kibaki–will compete favourably in the final leg.

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Nakuru Town, Kibwezi, Tigania West and Ntonyiri: More people join in the fray in four poll areas

More people have joined the race for the Nakuru Town, Kibwezi, Tigania West and Ntonyiri parliamentary seats.

Mr John Kimanthi Maingi will be vying against Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile, while Mr Madaraka Paul Mwithaga is seeking to unseat Mr William Kariuki in Nakuru Town.

Mr Wallace Mwongera Gichunge has entered the race for Ntonyiri constituency, which is currently held by Mr Maoka Maore.

Dr Mathiu John Kaugiria will be contesting against Education assistant minister Kilemi Mwiria in Tigania West.

Mr Mwithaga, 41, is going for the seat at one time held by his father, Mr Mark Mwithaga.

He has been extremely busy in the town trying to build his own network and revisiting his father’s connections in the constituency to boost his chances of inheriting his father’s seat.

Mr Mwithaga will be seeking the Narc Kenya nomination.

This will pit him against the incumbent, ill Mr Kariuki, and several other politicians.

He first plunged into politics among a group of youths calling themselves the Young Democrats, who campaigned vigorously for President Kibaki during the 1997 elections on the Democratic Party ticket.

Poverty and water

Mr Maingi is a businessman criticises Mr Ndile of failing to address poverty and lack of water in the constituency.

He is campaigning on the platform of addressing it plus bursaries to avoid the current high school drop out rate.

He says if elected, he will help to empower the people using locally available resources.

Mr Gichunge, 33, is a communications consultant who says he will, if elected, seek to encourage all shades of opinion in the constituency.

The hopeful argues that doing this will most probably help to remove the culture of personality worship which, he notes, is currently prevailing in the area.

His priorities, he adds, will be to address the serious water shortage, poor infrastructure and falling education standards.

The hopeful also intends to look beyond the Constituency Development Fund and raise more money as well as seek donor partnership in initiating poverty reduction projects.

He is appealing to the youth for support.

Dr Kaugiria, will be vying in Tigania West on a Narc ticket.

A veterinarian, he has vast experience in the civil service, having served in the ministry of Livestock Development for more than 10 years.

He is associated himself with the politics of the larger Tigania since 1974, and has has been supporting candidates who ultimately made it to Parliament.

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Sirisia Constituency: New district base may cause headache for Wetangula

The creation of Bungoma West district seems to be changing Foreign Affairs assistant minister Moses Wetang’ula’s political fortunes in this constituency by the day. He is preparing to defend the seat with the number of possible opponents already about 10.

Mr Wetang’ula’s political future is under threat as a controversy rages over the new district headquarters.

It is an extremely emotive issue as the location has annoyed the people of Sirisia and Malakisi, his strongholds.

They had preferred Sirisia market, arguing that it has the necessary infrastructure, and that even the district officer’s lived there.

But the MP sided with the people of Chwele and Nalondo divisions who previously did not support him, and backed Chwele. And now Mr Wetang’ula is walking a tightrope as he tries to strike a balance between his traditional backers and his previous detractors.

It is probably for this reason that the late entry of Imenti South district commissioner Joseph Satia, a close relative of Mr Wetang’ula’s, into the race is raising eye-brows.

Then there is businessman Emmanuel Tiboti who is shifting his base from Kanduyi whose seat he contested and lost in 2002.

Complicated matters

Mr Satia’s case is particularly critical for the MP as the two politicians are of the Babutu clan of Nalondo. They will then split the home votes and compete for the others in the rest of the constituency.

Mr Satia recently went public to declare that his rise in the provincial administration was hindered by Mr Wetang’ula until Trade minister Mukhisa Kituyi intervened to have him appointed DC, sparking a clan row that is still raging.

Addressing a rally at Nalondo in the presence of Dr Kituyi, he fired salvos at the MP whom he termed elitist with no time for the poor, and urged the voters to bring about change. That is when he declared that he is in the race.

It is probably for reason that the late entry of Imenti South DC Joseph Satia, a close relative of Mr Wetang’ula, into the race is raising eye-brows.

It has complicated matters for the MP, especially when it is considered that the two are from Babutu clan in Nalondo division.

They will then split the home vote and compete to share the rest of the constituency.

Mr Satia recently went public claiming that his rise in the provincial administration was hindered by Mr Wetang’ula until Dr Kituyi intervened to have him appointed DC sparking off a clan row that is still raging to date. Addressing a rally at Nalondo in the presence of Dr Kituyi, Mr Satia fired salvos at the sitting MP whom he termed elitist with no time for the poor while urging voters to bring about change. That is when he stated he was in the race to succeed Mr Wetang’ula.

Mr Tiboti who is from Musese, near Chwele market, is running on a Kanu ticket and counting on the support of his Batukwika clan.

He caused quite a stir last month when he donated money and materials to several schools in the division.

But although he is considered by the local political observers as a spoiler, he could help to deny Mr Wetang’ula the crucial votes.

Sirisia is made up of Chwele, Malakisi, Nalondo and Sirisia divisions, and has the largest number of poor people, estimated by the Central Bureau of Statistics at 114,470.

Sirisia and Malakisi were once famous for tobacco, cotton and coffee growing, but the collapse of the cotton subsector and low earnings from tobacco and coffee have largely contributed to poverty.

The failure by the political leadership to address the residents’ agricultural predicament is a hot election issue.

And although the local ginnery was expected to be operational by 2004 through the revival of the Malaba-Malakisi ginnery and cotton cooperative societies, this has yet to happen.

Even the much touted farm credit merchandise scheme as well as the small-scale processing and manufacturing plants projects have not taken off.

Water supply projects, particularly at Old Kibichori, Chwele, Ng’oli, Namwela-Chesabiti and Lwandanyi, as well as the Namwela-Sirisia-Lwakhakha road are other issues the residents will be raising.

Mr Wetang’ula has held the seat for only a term, having beaten Mr John Barasa Munyasia for the Narc nomination in 2002.

Mr Munyasia had beaten him in 1997 when he (Wetang’ula) stood on a Kanu ticket after serving one term in Parliament as a nominated MP.

But at the last election, the assistant minister got the support of Vice-President Michael Wamalwa to win both the nomination and the election.

In 1997, he was appointed as chairman of the Electricity Board, but shifted loyalty to Ford Kenya ahead of 2002, and this enabled him to get the Narc nod.

Another possible candidate, Mr John Waluke, has moved to exploit the headquarters issue to his advantage by mobilising against the MP residents Malakisi and Sirisia divisions who are opposed to Chwele.

It is worth noting that Mr Waluke at one time served as the MP’s campaign chief before they fell out.

On February 10, the hopeful led hundreds of former Ford Kenya supporters to defect to Narc Kenya at the Mayuba stadium, and they were received by the party’s interim secretary-general, Dr Kituyi.

He followed this by being elected Sirisia branch Narc-K chairman.

Mr Wetang’ula who is expected to clinch the Ford Kenya ticket, is counting on support from Chwele and Nalondo residents to retain the seat, but he seems to have quite a battle on his hands.

Another candidate

The votes in two divisions could be split further by yet another candidate, Mr Peter Kokonya, who does not see eye to eye with Mr Wetang’ula. Although he is yet to state clearly on which party ticket he will run, Mr Kokonya has been on the ground canvassing for votes.

Mr Eric Makokha and Mr Hudson Masambu are also in the race on the Narc Kenya ticket. Even at the party level, Mr Wetang’ula is not likely to have smooth sailing following the entry into the fray of Mr Mark Wanjala Barasa. Mr Barasa, a Kenya Revenue Authority employee in Mombasa who is from Khachonge in Nalondo, says Sirisia needs a change of guard.

“My party of choice is Ford Kenya, and I will be challenging Mr Wetang’ula for the ticket, but if rigged out I will consider other options,” he said when he declared his candidacy in March.

Slow implementation of the rural electrification programme, particularly in the border town of Lwakhakha, is likely to be another campaign issue. Poor sugarcane producer prices, especially in Nalondo where most farmers are contracted to the Nzoia Sugar Company, is another.

The growers have always demanded that the Government subsidise the cost of farm inputs, particularly seed cane and fertilizer, but their MPs have not raised the matter in Parliament.

All in all, Mr Waluke will have to contend with opposition from only Mr Masambu for the Sirisia division bloc vote, while Mr Wetang’ula will split that of Nalondo and Chwele, with his many rivals seeking to make his re-election a close call indeed.

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Mbooni Constituency: Poverty the main issue as Munyao seeks another term

The battle line has been drawn between Livestock and Fisheries minister Joseph Konzolo Munyao and nominated MP Mutula Kilonzo in a field pitting youthful politicians against the old and the middle-aged.

Mr Munyao is facing strong opposition from Mr Kilonzo, the ODM Kenya team leader who is venturing into competitive politics for the first time.

Mbooni in Makueni district is among the oldest in the region, but it is perhaps the most stagnated in development.

It has one of the worst roads in Ukambani, yet it has some of the best brains in the area.

It is the only region in Ukambani in which residents do not pray for rain, yet when it pours, they are cut off from the rest of the world as the roads become impassable.

The constituency has many sources of fresh water, especially from its hilly terrain, yet this resource is yet to be harnessed for domestic use, making potable water a mere pipe-dream.

It is this underdevelopment that is used as a weapon during election time to fight the sitting MP.

Mr Kilonzo, a lawyer by profession, has had his image and ego boosted by his active participation in the ODM-K politics which saw him appointed team leader.

This is a position he has used to his advantage by selling himself to the people.

He has endeared himself to the residents by organising high-profile fund-raising meetings to aid poor university students and women’s groups.

Besides, he aligns himself to ODM-K presidential hopeful Kalonzo Musyoka who supporting his bid for the seat.

Although he might have Mr Musyoka’s backing, Mr Kilonzo is likely to find the going tough against a team of hopefuls who have made it known that they will fight him and Mr Munyao to the bitter end to deny them the seat.

But recent developments in ODM-K do not seem to augur well for Mr Kilonzo. He is a Kanu nominated MP and therefore bonded by the party’s recent development in which it is yet to state clearly its clear position in the coalition.

This puts him in a dilemma as he is torn between Kanu and his friend, Mr Musyoka, whom he is eyeing the ODM-K presidential nomination.

Leading the pack of opponents is retired Narok Teachers College principal Joseph Mulei Musya — Health minister Charity Ngilu’s younger brother — Mr Ngotho Kasyoki, Mr Jackson Wambua and journalist Nicky Waita.

Also in the race is a son of Mr Kisoi Munyao — the independence hero who climbed to the peak of Mt Kenya hoist the national flag — Mr Michael Kisoi Munyao, and Mr Obadiah Musyimi Mulwa.

Other candidates are Mr Pius Kithome Pinkerton, city businessman Erastus Nzioka, Mr Mutua Mutyeia, Dr Kavini Ndambuki, Mr Stephen Kimondi, Mr Patrick Munguti, Mr George Mbate and Mr George Kavyu.

Leading women candidates is retired public health nursing tutor Esther Mueni Ngumbi, Ms Anastasia M. Ngambi and Mrs Esther Kiamba.

Mr Musya enjoys support on the ground because, unlike other politicians who retreated to urban areas after losing the 2002 election, he has remained in rural Mbooni to continue with quiet campaigns.

He was rewarded when soon after his unsuccessful parliamentary bid, he was elected chairman of the Kikima farmers cooperative society by an overwhelming majority.

His leadership qualities were seen when he helped to reduce the society’s debts from Sh32 million to Sh8 million by last year.

Mr Musya says Mbooni needs a new brand of leaders, and accuses past MPs of having nothing to show for their representation.

“As much as we respect our MP for having represented Mbooni for three terms, we feel he has done little that people can be proud of,” he says.

Mr Kasyoki recently told Mr Musyoka publicly to stop supporting Mr Kilonzo and appoint him attorney-general if he becomes president.

The hopeful who is yet to resign from his East African Portland cement company job, blames previous MPs for Mbooni’s underdevelopment.

Mr Wambua who has opted for early retirement to venture into politics says, the voters have been taken for a ride since independence in 1963.

Mr Wambua who is from Mbanya sublocation, has joined the race forcefully and is being viewed as among the serious challengers.

He describes himself as a visionary leader, and has already prepared a development blueprint, which includes poverty reduction, building of roads, improving health facilities and the provision of clean water in his first two years if elected.

He accuses Mr Munyao of channelling Constituency Development Fund money to areas that do not benefit the residents, such as a social hall in each location.

Mr Waita who has worked with the Presidential Press Service and the latest entry to the growing list of hopefuls, claims that he used his position during President Moi’s reign to influence projects like the 6.4km Mulima-Kitoo road, the local rural electrification project currently going on in parts of the constituency as well as the coming to Mbooni of a number of micro-finance services.

He vows, if elected, to help physically disabled children and ensure that water and other social amenities are available in Mbooni.

Mr Munyao, 34, who moved mourners in a speech during his father’s burial about three months ago, could be the first candidate from the very populous Kisau division.

He hopes to capitalise on this numerical strength. Currently, he is the regional director of the Foundation for Youth on Development in Africa, which draws membership from 11 countries.

He is also the chairman of the Kenya Youth Education School Fund, which to date has donated more than Sh5 million to local poor students.

The hopeful says Mbooni needs youthful and pragmatic leaders who are always accessible to the electorate.

Mr Mulwa, 33, is another the young possible candidate from Tulimani location, and he is a transporter and real estate developer.

He is among a group of young leaders supporting Mr Musyoka and has in his campaigns tried to win the youthful voters.

Mrs Ngambi says male leaders have had their time and let the people down in the process.

“We have had men who appeared to be of substance before they entered Parliament, but the moment they were in that August house they closed their ears and eyes to the realities facing the people who elected them; why give them another chance; it is time for women leaders?” she says.

Former MP Fredrick Kalulu is said to be considering joining the race. And if he does, he will be the only politician in Eastern province to have contested each parliamentary election since independence.

In his hey-day, Mr Kalulu was a classy politician and once campaigned by helicopter and on horseback.

All in all, dethroning Mr Munyao may not be so easy. His name is synonymous with the Mbooni politics, and he is among President Kibaki’s pointmen in the region.

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Laikipia West Constituency: Resurrection of DP tilts the balance in Laikipia West

The resurrection of the Democratic Party of Kenya (DP), fuelled by the controversial Narc Kenya grassroots elections in Laikipia West constituency, has tilted the scales a bit against the incumbent Mr G G Kariuki.

Recently, the aspirants for the seat, jointly with 23 civic hopefuls, conducted grassroots elections to revitalise the party. This was seen as a reaction to the Narc-K elections in which Mr Kariuki and his supporters clinched all the posts amid allegations of irregularities.

The DP members took this step in an apparent move to lock out Mr Kariuki and perhaps confine him in Narc-K.

Re-election bid

However, DP and Narc-K have announced their support for President Kibaki and his re-election bid.

The President formed DP on Christmas Day of 1991 and the party has made it known that he is welcome to run for a second term on its ticket. Narc-K has extended a similar invitation to him.

Twelve aspirants, including Mr Kariuki’s nephew Mr Peter Thome, are seeking to oust him. Others are former MP Mr Chege Mbitiru, Mr Peter Mumo Gathuru and Mr Kung’u Kihika, a son of former MP the late Kihika Kimani.

Others hopefuls are: Mr Peter Mumo, Mr Martin Kiruthu, Mr Dominic Oseko, Mr David Kamunya, Dr Stanley Kabugi, Mr Michael Mugo and Mr Nderitu Muriithi.

Ms Eunice Muthoni is the only woman in the race. She is the local DP branch treasurer.

Dr Kabugi is the party’s branch secretary while Mr Muriithi is the assistant treasurer.

The decision by the aspirants to hold joint rallies has re-ignited some interest in the party among the residents.

But the voters do not seem to be interested in parties but in a leader who is able to bring them development and peace.

The MP is banking on his development record.

Mr Kariuki, who was first area MP in 1963, has dismissed DP as a dead party which has no room in Laikipia politics.

He has ensured that the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) money is used to establish dispensaries, maternity wings, water projects and police posts.

These projects have used Sh86 million out of the Sh117 million allocated to the constituency in the last three financial years.

Mr Mbitiru, who beat Mr Kariuki in 1997 and lost to him in 2002, is bracing for another showdown.

In 1997, Mr Kariuki vied on Kanu ticket. Kanu was unpopular in Central Province at the time. He reclaimed it on a Narc ticket in 2002.

The MP’s critics blame him for failing to reconcile the communities living in the area.

Mr Oseko claims that the MP has failed to initiate reconciliation talks between Samburu and Pokot herdsmen, who have been battling over pasture in parts of Ol Moran and Rumuruti divisions.

The aspirants say that Mr Kariuki’s style of leadership has created division among local leaders and consequently affected development.

Vision to unite

DP branch chairman and Nyahururu mayor Mr John Muritu says the residents want a new leader with a vision to unite leaders and people across the political and tribal divides.

He says Mr Kariuki has failed to unite people by putting people from one community in the constituency development committee.

Ms Muthoni, who has been addressing meetings in every division seeking to clinch the DP ticket, says Mr Kariuki has nothing new to offer to the area residents since he has had four decades to serve the people.

While the DP candidate will be directly elected by the people through secret ballot, Narc-K’s flag-bearer is Mr Kariuki.

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Funyula Constituency: ODM confusion may hand Awori a lifeline

Wrangling in the Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya is giving Vice-President Moody Awori a life line in Funyula constituency.

The VP has coined a new slogan — AK lelo luno muli nafue — meaning Awori and Kibaki, today is the day, are you with us?

He is going around holding harambees for schools and churches in a renewed flashy campaign to drum up support for himself and President Kibaki — thanks to the on-going confusion in ODM-K.

When the Sunday Nation kicked off this series with Funyula last March, the VP’s rating was so low; even his critics had begun celebrating his possible exit. Now, he is in the constituency every weekend.

Then came last week’s shifting of alliances by Dr Julia Ojiambo. By welcoming ODM-K presidential aspirant Mr Kalonzo Musyoka to her Labour Party of Kenya,

Dr Ojiambo, was seen as running away from another Mr Raila Odinga who is the pillar of the Orange group.

She is herself an ODM-K presidential hopeful.

If there is any politician Dr Ojiambo needs to win the Funyula seat, it is Mr Odinga.

Uncle Moody, as Mr Awori is popularly known, has moved fast to capitalise on Dr Ojiambo’s blunder.

He is back with his lelo luno clarion call whipping up support towards the homestretch.

But the VP should still expect stiff competition from his arch-rival Dr Paul Otuoma.

Others are Mr Edward Mudibo, formerly of Kenya Union of Co-operatives, Mr Levis Majale, who runs a chain of pharmaceutical outlets in Nairobi, Mr Patrick Afande and Mr Mathias Ogama.

Mr Afande and Mr Ogama are seeking the ODM-K party ticket while Dr Ojiambo could choose to vie on her LPK ticket or line up in the ODM-K.

But it is the shifting of alliance in ODM-K that could easily boost Mr Awori’s chances of retaining the seat.

In the confusion, party supporters are getting disillusioned. And unless they put their houses in order soon, ODM-K leaders could squander the goodwill they enjoyed on the ground.

Mr Awori has now capitalised on the wrangles and he keeps on telling the electorate that they either choose development or retrogression.

He is pleading with voters to give him another chance to complete development projects that he has initiated.

ODM-K candidates in Funyula started their campaigning on a high note. They presented a united front but later started to fight over the control of the party in the constituency, leading to two parallel offices. One side was led by Dr Ojiambo and another by the Otuoma-Ogama-Majale-Afande axis.

Mr Awori says that he is determined to re-capture the seat he snatched from Dr Ojiambo more than two decades ago and is dismissing those saying he is too old.

He insists that he is still strong and energetic to have another five years.

While voters may warm up to him as an individual, his biggest challenge remains on how to market his party, Narc-K and counter the ODM-K wave. ODM-K still has more supporters than Narc-K in Funyula. The VP is the latter’s deputy leader.

The VP’s close allies are, however, confident that even though Narc-K may not be the party of choice in Funyula constituency the electorate may vote for Mr Awori purely as a person due to his campaign strategies that he has put in place.

Mr Awori has also the task of having to pull youths closer to him. Most of them are jobless and blame him for not assisting them to secure jobs despite his being VP. Mr Awori has changed tact as well. He is using delegations to his Funyula home to send a strong message that the VP’s post is a coveted position.

He is telling his constituents to either vote for him or see the motorcade taken elsewhere in case President Kibaki wins a second term.

His Cabinet colleagues who have visited Funyula constituency on many occasions have told the gatherings that if he is re-elected, Mr Awori will remain President Kibaki’s principal assistant.

The VP hosted Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently at his Funyula residence. Mr Museveni’s visit to the constituency presented an opportunity for the VP to send a strong message that his is a privileged position and that they will be seeing more of it if they give him another chance.

Mr Awori has also conducted various fund-raisers, which he uses as campaign platforms. He resorted to them when he discovered that political rallies might end up with poor turnout.

But his critics fault him on the use of CDF money. They argue that the cash has been directed to projects which have no direct bearing to the welfare of the people. For instance, they point out that some money has been used to construct an airstrip, and a court building and a stadium at Funyula trading centre.

Dr Ojiambo says she is optimistic that she will get back the seat she lost to Mr Awori in the 1983 snap elections.

She is still assuring her supporters that ODM-K will remain united despite the recent re-alignments.

Mr Ogama, who has a strong presence in the constituency, could also present a strong challenge to the VP. He came second last time when he vied on a Kanu ticket.

Though the ODM-K politicians have parallel offices in the constituency they still insist that they are working together. They are saying that they could back one among them to face off with Mr Awori.

Like Mr Ogama, Mr Afande insists that despite the conflicts in ODM-K the VP should prepare for a bruising battle.

Dr Otuoma is also on the ground campaigning and says this time round he is not ready to lose.

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