Political daggers have been drawn in western Kenya as allies of top politicians – Deputy President William Ruto, Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga and Amani National Congress chief Musalia Mudavadi — fight to control the region ahead of the 2022 General Election.
Mr Ruto has been making forays into the region that voted for Mr Odinga in the past three elections, while Mr Mudavadi, who has also declared interest in the top seat, is keen on galvanising the region’s support.
Mr Odinga’s allies have told pro-Ruto supporters to brace themselves for a bruising battle.
The DP’s pointmen in the region are former Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga, Hamisi MP Charles Gimose, former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and Mumias East MP Ben Washiali.
Mr Ruto’s allies have formed teams to coordinate and popularise his presidential bid.
However, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Senator Cleophas Malala and Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi have asked MPs supporting the Deputy President to forget the region’s votes.
Mr Oparanya, who is also the Council of Governors’ chairman, told the leaders that western “has owners”.
“Western is home of the National Super Alliance which is still alive,” he said, telling Ruto’s foot soldiers to tread with caution.
Referring to a loose grouping of Mr Ruto’s supporters, Mr Oparanya said: “The tangatangas who are used to driving into western should start calculating their moves because we are watching and will counter them. We want them to come with respect.”
Mr Malala said the 2022 presidential contest would be a do-or-die battle.
While Mr Oparanya said he would be in the next presidential contest, Mr Malala did not reveal his preferred candidate.
Mr Mudavadi has criticised opposition leaders working with the government, arguing that it is hypocritical.
The Amani leader says he is preparing to form a government in 2022 and that he is not interested in a government job “like my colleagues in Nasa”.
The statement is a jibe directed at Mr Odinga and Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, who have been working with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
His critics have, however, questioned his role in several government functions he has recently attended, particularly during the launch of the Huduma Namba service earlier this year.
Nominated MP Godffrey Osotsi – a member of ANC – faulted his party leader for criticising those working with the government.
“In April, Mudavadi launched the Huduma Namba listing in Kajiado. In what capacity was he doing that if he is not working with the government?” the Nominated MP posed.
Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi, an ally of Mr Mudavadi, said his party boss supported other leaders in the past, adding that it is time the gesture is reciprocated.
“We should, however, ponder on who is the best candidate. Mudavadi helped Raila, who had told us he had only one bullet that has now been exhausted,” Mr Agoi said.
The MP told off colleagues allied to Mr Ruto.
“It is Interior CS Fred Matiang’i we can engage when we want development. We cannot follow someone who comes to switch on streetlights that go off the moment he leaves,” he said.
Vihiga Senator George Khaniri, who has always been believed to be an Mr Odinga supporter, yesterday told voters in Western to rally behind Mr Mudavadi.
Report by Justus Ochieng, Benson Amadala, Shaban Makokha and Derick Luvega