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ODM leaders get set for Kibra by-election

Monday August 12 2019

Justin Muturi

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi. He is expected to declare the Kibra parliamentary seat vacant this week. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DAVID MWERE
By DAVID MWERE
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The contest between opposition leader Raila Odinga's allies in ODM for the Kibra parliamentary seat has already started taking shape.

This is as National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi prepares to issue writs on Friday declaring the seat vacant after the death of Kibra MP Ken Okoth on July 26.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC) has to prepare for the by-election within three months of the issuance of the notice by the Speaker.

ISSUE WRITS

With today marking the 17th day since the demise of the MP, National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai said the Speaker will likely issue the writs on or before Friday.

“As you know, the 21 days start counting a day after the death of the member, which means that the days shall elapse on Friday this week. As we talk the notice is already being worked on,” Mr Sialai told the Nation.

Already various individuals among them former MPs and contestants in the previous elections and other hopefuls have already started positioning themselves to succeed Okoth.

Some of those expected to seek the Orange party’s ticket include Mr Imran Okoth (brother to the late MP), Mr Eliud Owalo, former Embakasi South MP Irshad Sumra, former Senator Elizabeth Ongoro, ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna and ODM youth leader Benson Musungu.

Mr Owalo, a renowned management consultant, served as the head of Mr Odinga’s 2013 presidential campaign secretariat and chief campaign manager.

Majority of the hopefuls were non-committal only saying they will make their positions clear after the seat is declared vacant.

“I do not want to talk about a non-existent seat,” Mr Owalo said.

VACANT

“As we speak, the seat still belongs to Ken Okoth because the Speaker has not issued the writs declaring it vacant. Once the same takes effect, I will scan the operational environment and respond appropriately to the factors in play and the issues emerging therein,” he added.

Mr Imran Okoth said “I would rather not speak now” as Ms Ongoro said she would do the needful once Mr Muturi is done with the formalities.

“You come back to me when the seat is officially vacant so that I can give you my true position. For now, we are still mourning Ken Okoth, we haven’t healed,” Ms Ongoro said.

She, however, said that she had no power to stop those speculating on social media about her imminent declaration of candidature.

With the dawn of the ‘handshake’ on March 9, 2018, it is expected that the battle will be domiciled in Mr Odinga's ODM party as Okoth was a member.

President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party is expected to keep off the impending by-election in a similar fashion it did in Embakasi South and Ugenya last year.

ODM also reciprocated in Wajir West in the same year.

INDEPENDENTS

But it will be difficult to rule out pockets of nondescript parties fielding candidates as well as the independents.

The likelihood of the usual messy, energy sapping and time-consuming party nominations and their attendant drama that often comes with claims and counter claims of rigged nominations and therefore calls for a repeat, cannot be ruled out.

Securing the ODM ticket in the area will be akin to a guaranteed of victory in an area where Mr Odinga enjoys fanatical support having represented the area until 2013.

The late Okoth’s legacy in Kibra is summed up by development meaning that those seeking to succeed him will have a lot to prove that they are indeed equal to the task.

Institutions like Mbagathi High School, Kibera High School (under construction) and rehabilitation of the Kibera Primary School have been credited to his name for the six years he served the area.

The individual who convince the area residents in their empowerment through education with an added focus on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for the youth.