Raila, Ruto parties change tack in grassroots polls

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Raila, Ruto parties change tack in grassroots polls

Faced with the arduous task of holding elections, the country’s two main political parties made a tactical retreat this week, opting to stagger their polls.

The decision, considered as a test of the waters given the polarizing impact of party elections, comes after months of internal fighting that endangered their stability.

President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance has declared that grassroots polls would be held between April 26 and August 24.

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Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement has stated that their elections would begin the day after the United Democratic Alliance’s.

UDA’s decision was a departure from its earlier plan to conduct elections on a single day, with President Ruto claiming last year that speedy polls would help reduce impact.

Junet Mohamed, ODM Director of Elections, told The Saturday Standard that the decision to delay the election was motivated by “logistical issues” rather than concerns about possible ramifications from previous party primaries.

“Counties are very far from each other and it would be difficult to move from one place to another. We have them on different dates to avoid logistical challenges. We are eager for the elections, which are always aimed at having the right people in office,” said the Suna East MP.

See also  Ex-Raila's aide elected as UDA secretary in Raila's stronghold

While numerous positions are up for grabs during the grassroots elections, the top jobs have sparked the greatest attention.

In ODM, for example, the fight for party leadership is heating up as Raila prepares to step down in order to become chairman of the African Union Commission.

Former governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Hassan Joho (Mombasa), who both serve as Raila’s deputies, are interested in replacing the former prime minister and have triggered faction conflicts within ODM.

While the majority of parliamentarians back Oparanya, those from the Coast and North Eastern regions prefer Joho, who is gathering a team that includes Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina, Junet, and Embakasi East MP Babu Owino.

The contest for ODM leadership has also piqued the attention of Raila’s Nyanza supporters, who believe they should win since it is the most popular in the area.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi is seen as a possible successor to Raila.

Days earlier, Nyanza MPs backed him for the party’s leadership. The Ugunja MP also recently said that if a vacancy occurred, he would consider running for the position. Wandayi is the ODM’s current Director of Political Affairs.

See also  Ex-Raila's aide elected as UDA secretary in Raila's stronghold

Kisii Governor Simba Arati has mostly kept quiet about his ambitions for the top job. The ODM deputy chairperson previously sought the role, challenging Raila but eventually stepping aside.

The fight for deputy party leader is also appealing. So far, Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga has been touted as Joho’s successor, and she is reported to be in his soon-to-be-announced camp.

She faces opposition from Saboti MP Caleb Amisi, who told The Saturday Standard that he wants Oparanya’s position. The two-term MP is one of many young MPs who have formed “team ground,” a nonpartisan coalition that aims to put pressure on the administration as an alternative to the conventional opposition. Amisi is the ODM’s deputy organising secretary.

With ODM chairman John Mbadi leaving office, the race for his top post may spark interest. In a recent news conference, Babu said that he will seek to replace the Nominated MP. Arati might opt to be promoted to chairwoman, resulting in a vacancy in the deputy post.

As it stands, Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna is sitting comfortable as ODM’s secretary-general, since the reliable Raila friend has faced no opposition.

See also  Ex-Raila's aide elected as UDA secretary in Raila's stronghold

Other positions on offer include treasurer, which is presently held by former Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire, as well as other crucial National Executive Committee positions.

While the UDA’s leadership is stable, the deputy leader’s position has raised concern. Previous attempts to create a second deputy leader post, which would weaken the influence of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, were met with criticism, forcing the president to intervene and suspend the idea.

The race for secretary-general is perhaps the most heated in Ruto’s party.

Cleophas Malala, secretary general of the UDA, faces a possible challenge from Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, who is well-liked among Mt Kenya MPs and believes he should hold the key post.

UDA leaders, including its chairman, Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire, are serving on an interim basis, which means the party’s primaries might be more contentious.

In Other News: Raila’s AU Job Bid Boosted By Angola And Guinea-Bissau

Raila, Ruto parties change tack in grassroots polls

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