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ODM's Imran Okoth wins Kibra parliamentary seat in mini poll

Friday November 8 2019

NATION TEAM
By NATION TEAM
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Mr Bernard Otieno 'Imran' Okoth of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is the new MP-elect for Kibra Constituency.

Mr Okoth was declared winner on Friday morning after garnering 24,636 votes to beat Jubilee’s McDonald Mariga, who conceded defeat when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) figures from 40 out of 183 polling stations showed he was trailing Mr Okoth.

"I want to thank God, my party leader Hon Raila Odinga, leaders who stood by me and Kibra voters. It is now evident money can't buy leadership. I will serve you diligently and reciprocate the support you have given me,” Mr Okoth said after being declared winner.\

"I will start working immediately I’m sworn in and request my opponents to support me in serving the people of Kibra. It is only through unity that Kibra will develop. I support the handshake since I am the first handshake MP," added Mr Okoth.

TITANIC BATTLE

Even before all the votes were declared, Mr Mariga called Mr Okoth to congratulate him on his victory.

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He said he was happy that the contest was carried out peacefully and that they will continue being friends.

In the official results declared by the IEBC Returning Officer Beatrice Muli , Mr Mariga garnered 11,230 votes while Mr Eliud Owalo of Amani National Congress got 5,275 votes.     

Mr Okoth is the younger brother of Ken Okoth, the former MP who died of cancer in July.

Before joining politics, Mr Okoth, who was his brother’s personal assistant, also served as the National Constituency Development Fund manager.

Imran Okoth speaks

Imran Okoth speaks on November 8, 2019 after being declared the winner in the Kibra by-election. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The titanic battle pitting opposition chief Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto in a proxy-war that caught the attention of the nation was essentially seen as a dress-rehearsal for the 2022 General Election.

But the hotly contested election was marked by low voter turnout, voter bribery and intimidation claims and arrests.

The voter turnout stood at 35.38 percent at the end of the count.

SUPREMACY BATTLE

The mini-poll, resulting from the death of Ken Okoth in July, was turned into a supremacy fight for control of the city votes between Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto.

It was also an opportunity for the Kieleweke team, a faction in the Jubilee Party backing the political pact between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, to square it out with the Tangatanga brigade allied to Dr Ruto.

Mr Odinga’s National Super Alliance partners Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) and Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford-Kenya also entered into the fray to test the waters as the coalition that gave Jubilee Party a run for its money in the 2017 polls appeared to crumble.

The Kibra by-election attracted 24 candidates.

Political observers interpreted Mr Okoth’s win as a show that Mr Odinga still holds sway in Nairobi despite DP Ruto’s effort to penetrate his stronghold.

The campaigns were a show of might between Mr Odinga, the DP, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula as they marshalled their troops to lobby for support for their candidates.

POLITICAL REALIGNMENT

While Mr Odinga brought in President Kenyatta's allies in Jubilee Party backing the Building Bridges Initiative and key leaders from other parties, signalling fresh political realignment ahead of 2022 elections, Dr Ruto was mainly flanked by his key Jubilee point men from various parts of the country.

Mr Okoth’s victory will be a sigh of relief for Mr Odinga after losing the Ugenya, Wajir South and Embakasi South by-elections.

Reporting by Joel Odidi, Philip Momanyi Maosa, Collins Omulo, Lucas Barasa and Cecil Odongo