Raila changes tack in Kibra elections against Mariga threat

Saturday September 21 2019

ODM leader Raila Odinga (right) gives Mr Imran Okoth, the party's candidate for the Kibra parliamentary election, his blessings after a meeting at Capitol Hill, Nairobi, on September 19, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY


Opposition leader Raila Odinga has adopted a new political strategy ahead of the Kibra by-election to ward off an onslaught from football star McDonald Mariga and retain the seat.

For the first time in his nearly three decades of firm grip on Kibra politics, Mr Odinga is using the door-to-door approach in the ODM campaigns to retain the seat as opposed to the frenzied public rallies his supporters are accustomed to.

“This time we are going from door to door. We have left rallies to Owalo (ANC candidate) and Mudavadi,” ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohamed told the Sunday Nation.

The change of tack by ODM saw a rally that was to be held at the DC’s grounds cancelled.

“Today we are going to all the SDA Churches in Kibra to talk to the people on the need for peaceful campaigns and elections, which has always been the hallmark of ODM’s philosophy,” said Mr Mohamed, the Suna East MP.



The seat fell vacant following the death of Ken Okoth on July 26. The ODM candidate, Mr Imran Okoth, will square it out with Mr Mariga of Jubilee, Eliud Owalo of Amani National Congress (ANC) and Ford Kenya’s Hamisi Butichi.

Those close to Mr Odinga - including sitting MPs - say the seat means a lot to the party boss, who has taken it upon himself to lead the campaigns for Mr Okoth, unlike the Ugenya and Embakasi South by-elections mid this year, which saw him keep off completely.

On Thursday last week, Mr Odinga held a two-hour meeting at his Capitol Hill office with his former erstwhile political foe-turned-ally nominated MP Maina Kamanda to formulate strategies for clinching the November 7 by-election.

The meeting came just hours after Deputy President William Ruto and supporters aligned to his Tangatanga faction of Jubilee visited President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, where the Head of State endorsed Mariga’s candidature.

Those who attended the Capitol Hill meeting included Mr Mohamed, Nyando MP Jared Okelo, Mount Kenya ODM representative Kamau Mweha and Mr Okoth.


Among the tactics Mr Odinga is employing include denying Mr Mariga the Kikuyu vote, which the Jubilee Party has traditionally relied on to win elections in Nairobi.

On Friday, Mr Owalo, Mr Mudavadi and key party supporters met the Kisii, Teso, Kikuyu and the Nubian council of elders living in Kibra in a series of town-hall meetings at the ANC secretariat in Lavington.

Mr Odinga is banking on city Luhya MPs George Aladwa (Makadara) and Tim Wanyonyi (Westlands) to work closely with Mr Mohamed in delivering the vote alongside ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna.

“Just last week, Mr Odinga and his wife Ida hosted the ODM leadership from Nairobi County to discuss the campaigns to ensure that the party retains the seat,” Mr Aladwa, who is also the ODM Nairobi Chairman, said.

“Other than Mr Odinga, this seat means a lot to us. We will work hard to ensure Imran is declared the winner,” Mr Wanyonyi said in an interview.