Some leaders in Migori County are pursuing a negotiated political arrangement that could see key seats shared among the ethnic groups living in the area in the next elections.
Proponents of the system known as “negotiated democracy” argue that a divisive election is likely stoke inter-tribal animosity in a county where some leaders from the minority Kuria fear they will be dominated politically by the Luo.
Politicians from the Kuria feel they stand little chance of winning the seats of Women’s Representative, Senator or Governor in an open contest.
Kuria West and Kuria East constituencies have about 40,000 voters with a population of close to 200,000 people.
The Luo-dominated constituencies of Migori West, Migori East, Uriri, Nyatike, Rongo and Awendo have over 300,000 voters.
The matter came up during Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s campaign tour with Kuria assistant minister Wilfred Machage, also the Kuria MP, leading local leaders in petitioning the ODM presidential aspirant to use his influence to make sure the county seats were equitably distributed “in a boardroom arrangement”.
“We are ready to support you but only if you demonstrate that we will not be marginalised by the populous Luos in the county. This fear has plagued us for some time and informed my decision to oppose the new Constitution during the referendum vote,” said Dr Machage during a leaders meeting in the county attended by the PM.
“Our people are not in senior government positions and the few who were there have been kicked out.”
Mr Mahanga Mwita, another local leader, said the Kuria should be given the posts of Senator and Deputy Governor as a demonstration of desire of unity in the county.
In response, Mr Odinga urged local leaders to form a negotiation committee with representatives drawn from the two peoples to discuss the proposals.
“But beware of politicians from outside who usually come here to antagonise you with your neighbours,” Mr Odinga warned.
“The aspirants must have convincing reasons and you should vie for the positions on ODM ticket to make work easy.”
The former secretary of gender, Prof Collete Suda, who resigned recently to go into elective politics, is set to battle it out for the post of Senator with former East African Legislative Assembly MP Ochieng Mbeo, former Education assistant minister Oluoch Kanindo and Mr John Magaiwa, the Migori county ODM chairman.
The post of governor has attracted Mr Okoth Obado, Mr Mark Nyamita, Mr Owiso Ngao, and Prof Akong’o Oyugi.