Unity still elusive in Western vote hunt
Posted Saturday, June 16 2012 at 20:30
The aggressive campaign by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi since his defection from ODM to UDF has set the stage for a major political realignment in Western Province.
Mr Mudavadi’s move has also sparked supremacy battles involving him and four other politicians with roots in the region who have declared their interest in the presidency.
Others are Trade minister Moses Wetang’ula, Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa and Lands assistant minister Bifwoli Wakoli all from the larger Bungoma region and Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo.
Chances of a candidate from Western Kenya winning the presidency appear to be hinged on their ability to garner support from Rift Valley and Central Kenya.
This is more so because the local vote appears headed for division as several candidates, among them Deputy Prime Minister Mudavadi, Justice minister Wamalwa, Trade minister Wetang’ula and Lugari MP Jirongo have shown interest in the top seat.
Assistant minister Wakoli is also interested. However, the recent submission by the prosecution that it was not opposed to the trial of the Kenyan suspects at the International Criminal Court (ICC) starting after March next year complicates matters.
This means that two of the accused, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto, will not worry about the trials during the campaign period.
Although Chapter Six of the Constitution has been cited as a possible stumbling block for the presidential aspirations of the pair, opinion is divided as to whether the provisions of the chapter can override Article 99, which allows one to hold office unless they have been convicted for more than six months.
The same article insists that a person must be given room to exhaust all avenues of appeal. The two have not even been tried and it is, therefore, not far-fetched to say they are likely to be on the ballot paper.
But even if Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto do not run, their presence and participation in campaigns means they will influence how their political bases vote.
And given that Western is not known to vote as a block like Nyanza, Rift Valley and Central, the five presidential aspirants have a herculean task to even make it to the run-off stage without support from other regions.
Currently, ODM technically commands majority support in Western Province with 16 MPs having been elected on its ticket in the last elections.
But some, including Mr Mudavadi, Mr George Khaniri (Hamisi), Mr Kizito Mugali (Shinyalu) and Mr Ben Washiali (Mumias) have moved to UDF.
PNU has five MPs, followed by New Ford-Kenya with two, and Kaddu and Ford-Kenya one each.A turf war has already erupted with the aspirants working round the clock to gain control of the region.
Mr Wamalwa is said to be strong in Bungoma and Trans Nzoia and among the youth in other counties. Mr Wetang’ula is said to have launched a massive campaign to get a share of Bungoma.
Enter into alliance
However, some political observers say Mr Wetang’ula is better off entering into an alliance with either Mr Mudavadi or Mr Odinga to enhance his clout. Observers say Mr Wakoli is unlikely to be a serious threat to the others.