The ODM candidate for the Homa Bay Senate by-election, Moses Kajwang’, was on Friday injured when rival supporters fought at a funeral.
The violence, coming only a day before top Cord leaders Moses Wetang’ula and Kalonzo Musyoka arrive to lead the coalition’s campaigns, left scores others injured.
Mr Kajwang’ was hit on the head when youths threw stones and other objects at the dais where he was standing next to Homa Bay Women Representative Gladys Wanga.
He was later taken to Homa Bay Referral Hospital where he was treated and discharged.
The youths who were chanting slogans in praise of Maendeleo Democratic Party flag bearer Phillip Okundi and waving his posters were trying to prevent the ODM candidate and MPs, who included his brother TJ Kajwang’ (Ruaraka) from addressing the mourners.
Mr Okundi was not at the funeral.
The heckling started after Rangwe MP George Oner, who was master of ceremonies, invited his Ruaraka counterpart to make a speech.
In response, ODM supporters started singing songs in praise of their candidate and the party.
Undeterred by the jeering from the pro-Okundi group, Mr Kajwang’ continued with his address in which he accused some politicians of hiring youths to disrupt the funeral.
“We did not come here to show our political might. I know this is Mr Okundi’s home turf but it is wrong to heckle others because you will also visit other parts of the county to look for votes,” he said.
The politicians were attending the funeral of Agnes Atieno Makdwallo, secretary to the Homa Bay County Public Service Board.
LEAD THE HUNT FOR VOTES
And as campaigns for the February 12 by-election intensify, Mr Musyoka and Mr Wetang’ula will on Saturday lead the hunt for votes for Mr Kajwang’.
The two leaders, who will be joined by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, will address meetings earlier in the day before holding a rally at Homa Bay Stadium.
The two are scheduled to address more campaign rallies on Sunday.
Mr Oparanya will start the campaigns in Chabera and traverse the county towards Homa Bay Town.
“We ask our supporters to come out and meet their leaders; we ask them to maintain peace as well as extend an olive branch to our worthy rivals,” ODM candidate Kajwang’ said on Friday before the funeral violence.
On Monday and Tuesday, Siaya Senator James Orengo and his Machakos counterpart Johnstone Muthama will lead ODM supporters in campaigning for Mr Kajwang’.
ODM leader Raila Odinga is also expected to pitch tent in the county for three days.
Mr Odinga will meet with elders and leaders from the region as well as address major rallies.
The ODM candidate will fight it out with Mr Okundi, Fred Rabongo of the National Agenda Party and Hillary Alila, an independent.
Also in the race are independent candidates Innocent Masara, Luke Misama and Edwin Matete as well as Bernard Otieno of the National Vision Party.
The by-election follows the death of Otieno Kajwang’, the older brother of the ODM candidate.
As the campaigns hit the homestretch, ODM appears to be softening its stance on disciplining perceived rebels. The party has instead extended an olive branch to disgruntled leaders and has urged them to support Mr Kajwang’.
Speaking at a rally on Thursday in Karachuonyo constituency, John Mbadi and Deputy Minority Whip Jakoyo Midiwo said there was still room for Karachuonyo MP James Rege and others to “come back home”.
“Although our brothers went against the Political Parties Act and even warned party leader Raila Odinga not to step foot in Homa Bay County, there is still room to forgive Mr Rege and his group,” said Mr Midiwo during the rally at Pala market next to Mr Rege’s home.
“If Raila can campaign in Wajir, Tononoka in Mombasa and Busia, how can one warn him not to step in his home?” asked Mr Midiwo.
Mr Mbadi said there was no grudge against the fellow MPs but discipline must be maintained in the party.
“You cannot expect us to keep mum when you go against the party by openly campaigning for our opponents,” he said.
Mr Rege, Mr Oner and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero are supporting Mr Okundi.
Mr Mbadi and Midiwo revisited the 2013 election pact in Homa Bay and asserted that there was no way the Homa Bay bloc, which already has County Women MP Wanga could get the Senate slot.
“The Rachuonyo bloc has Governor Cyprian Awiti and Speaker Samwel Ochilo, Homa Bay bloc has Wanga and Deputy Speaker Hamilton Orata. For purposes of regional balancing which is in the Constitution, the Senate should go to the Suba bloc,” Mr Midiwo declared.
Leader of Majority in Nairobi County Elisha Otieno said Cord MCAs had given Governor Kidero “a yellow card” for supporting Mr Okundi.
“Although Kidero is our son, if by next week he fails to change his stance, then we will give him a red card,” he said.
Governor Awiti said it was unfortunate that some selfish politicians wanted to use the by-election as a launching pad for the 2017 General Election.
“As governor, I will not be distracted from carrying my mandate until 2017 when I will face them at the ballot,” he said.