Raila headache in Western as Mudavadi wards off reunion
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga faces a major headache in his fights to sustain his grip of the Western region in the next General Election.
The region is regarded as Raila’s second most critical voting bloc after Luo-Nyanza.
The region rallied behind the former Prime Minister in 2007 and 2017 presidential elections.
But on all the two occasions, he had the backing of Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi; who was his running-mate in 2007 and his campaign manager in 2017.
Mudavadi is now in the race for the top seat with political pundits saying the move would scuttle Raila’s fifth attempt at State House.
Mudavadi has declined overtures to drop out of the contest in favour of Raila. That is the Herculean task Raila faces.
The ANC leader contested the presidency in 2013 and garnered nearly half a million votes, which observers say could have gone to Raila, who was seeking the presidency with Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka as his running-mate.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya who is the ODM deputy party leader, Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary-General Francis Atwoli and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa the ODM leader’s campaigners in the region.
The other key local Raila backers are governors Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) and Wilbur Otichillo of Vihiga.
There is growing debate on whether Raila can attract the western bloc without the backing of Mudavadi and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula.
Oparanya yesterday told People Daily that he is Raila’s pointman in the Luhya community and that he would not bow to any pressure to back Mudavadi.
“Nobody should lie to you that Western is locked behind Mudavadi. And no one should think Raila cannot win over our community and region without the support of Mudavadi. We are on the ground,” he said.
The governor reiterated his ambition to be his party leader’s presidential runningmate in next year’s polls.
He said there was nothing wrong with Raila picking him as his presumptive deputy as he did the same in 2007 when he settled on Mudavadi.
Political analyst Amukowa Anangwe says Raila needs Mudavadi more than the latter needs him.
He observes that the ODM leader’s efforts to use Mudavadi’s critics to reach out to the region would not bear fruits.
“They should have learnt something from the Matungu and Kabuchai by-elections on March 4.
They used all the resources at their disposal but still lost to candidates allied to Mudavadi and Senator Moses Wetangula,” said Anangwe.
Mudavadi’s allies said they had no room for negotiations if their leader was still being undermined by their counterparts allied to Raila.
Businessman Fred Ikana who is one of the ANC chief’s close associates said Mudavadi will go for nothing short of the Presidency.
“We have put all mechanisms in place and have no time to negotiate with Raila or anybody else.
We however gladly invite him and our other opponents to join us in this contest,” said Ikana who has set his eyes on the Shinyalu parliamentary seat.