ODM leader Raila Odinga Thursday steered clear of the push by some of his supporters who want him to contest the Homa Bay Senate seat.
ODM leader Raila Odinga Thursday steered clear of the push by some of his supporters who want him to contest the Homa Bay Senate seat left vacant after the death of Mr Otieno Kajwang last month.
Political parties have until December 19 to nominate their candidates ahead of the by-election to be held on February 2.
The proposal to have Mr Odinga vie for the seat has attracted mixed reactions in the political arena.
He on Thursday said he did not wish to be drawn into the debate.
“I do not want to talk about it,” Mr Odinga said in response to a question on whether he would vie for the seat. He spoke after attending a prayer service for seven teachers who were among 28 bus passengers who were shot dead by Al-Shabaab terrorists last week.
Eleven ODM MPs had on Wednesday said they had resolved to ask their party leader to go for the seat.
However, the Luo Council of Elders, led by Mr Meshack Riaga Ogalo, told Mr Odinga not to vie.
“Homa Bay county has competent and credible people who can represent them very well in the Senate,” Mr Riaga said.
Mr Kajwang’s younger brother, Mr Moses Otieno, has already expressed interest in the seat.
Mr Otieno, a former student leader at Moi University, said he will seek the ODM nomination for the position. He also pledged to use the seat, if elected, to mobilise youth to support Mr Odinga’s quest for the presidency in the next election.
The Nation has learnt that Nyatike MP Omondi Anyanga held talks with Mr Odinga at his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday afternoon and on Wednesday announced at a press conference that the party leader should vie.
And Suna East MP Junet Mohammed said: “We seriously want him to run for the seat. This is not a laughing matter. We are very serious”.
Seven out of the eight Homa Bay County MPs were absent at the press conference. Only Homa Bay Central MP Opondo Kaluma joined those pushing Mr Odinga to run.
“We advised our colleagues to hold wide consultations on this matter. The people of Homa Bay may have their feelings. But they did not listen to us,” said Karachuonyo MP James Rege.
This is the second time an attempt is being made to have Mr Odinga contest a parliamentary seat after losing to Mr Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2013 presidential election.
In the first attempt, a group of ODM leaders had tried to persuade Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura to step down for Mr Odinga but the plan was later abandoned after Mr Obura turned down the request.
“Yes it is true they attempted to ask me to step down for him immediately after elections. But I declined in good faith because I could not stomach Mr Odinga as a minority leader while Aden Duale is majority leader,” Mr Obura told the Nation.
If he decides to contest, Mr Odinga will find himself in competition with his former chief of staff in the Prime Minister’s office, Mr Caroli Omondi and Mr Silas Jakakimba, a lawyer who was also his personal assistant.
Yesterday, Mr Jakakimba said: “I know the idea is not serious but if he decides to contest then let us meet at the ballot.”
Mr Omondi however said: “I find myself in a very precarious situation. That I have to do battle against my boss, someone I respect so much.”
Yesterday, former NSSF managing trustee Fred Rabongo also declared that he will contest for the seat in the race that has also attracted former Rangwe MP Philip Okundi.
In Homa Bay, youths yesterday protested the proposal to back Mr Odinga. County ODM youth leader Shem Mamluki said Mr Odinga’s candidacy would cause a split between South and Central Nyanza.
—Reports by Isaac Ongiri, Benson Amadala and Maurice Kaluoch