Uhuru visit leaves Kisii leaders divided
Posted Saturday, July 14 2012 at 18:50
A declaration by a group of Ford-People leaders and Foreign Affairs minister Sam Ongeri that the Kisii region will back Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has created a rift in the party and angered some local leaders.
Speaking in Marani in Kisii during Mr Kenyatta’s two-day tour of Kisii counties last week, Prof Ongeri and Ford-People chairman Henry Obwocha announced that they will rally the local people behind Mr Kenyatta “to ensure the area is not locked out of the next government”.
“We have decided as a party to throw our weight behind Mr Kenyatta who, we believe, will be the next President. We must support the winning group to increase our bargaining power,” Mr Obwocha said. The leaders who spoke called for Mr Kenyatta’s support.
Former Ford-People MPs Stephen Manoti (Bobasi), Joel Onyancha (Bomachoge), Zebedeo Opore (Bonchari), Omwancha Okioma (Kitutu Masaba) and Jimmy Angwenyi of Kitutu Chache attended the meeting.
But Ford-People national director of elections Albert Nyaundi distanced the party from the Obwocha declaration, saying it was personal.
“We have not sat down as Ford-People party and resolved to support Mr Kenyatta. We have only agreed that we want to be associated with G7 in which TNA is one of the affiliate parties,” Mr Nyaundi said.
Former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara also dismissed Prof Ongeri’s statement as personal.
Allied to Ruto
“Prof Ongeri cannot purport to speak for the Kisiis. To say that we have resolved to back Mr Kenyatta is an insult to the intelligence of the Abagusii,” said the MP, allied to Eldoret North MP William Ruto. Mr Ruto is the leader of the United Republican Party (URP).
“I support unity because disunity brings pain and reduces our bargaining power, but let us assess all the candidates and talk to each before making the decision on where to go,” said Mr Magara.
He attributed the challenges facing the Kisiis to “collective failure” of the local political leadership.
Prof Ongeri is angling to be invited to become Mr Kenyatta’s running mate, but the TNA leader did not show any such indications during the Kisii tour.
Ford-People, initially associated with former Cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae, has been struggling to regain its foothold in the Kisii region, which it lost largely to Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM and the Uhuru-led Kanu in the last election.
Mr Nyaundi said the party had not signed any document binding it to support Mr Kenyatta.
“We all agree that we do not want to be left out of the next government, and if we realise that G7 is not winning, we are free to change our mind and join any party that is likely to carry the day,” he told the Sunday Nation.
He said the party had held meetings with TNA, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Party and Mr Ruto’s URP but had not settled on any of them.
Mr Joash Maangi, an ODM member who is eyeing the Bomachoge seat, said Ford-People was unlikely to influence the voting pattern in Kisii in the elections. Describing it as a “house of political losers” he said the party enjoys insignificant support in the region.