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Kenya politics: The battle for Kisumu Central – Will Obura retain the seat?

Posted by African Press International on May 15, 2017

By Our Reporter.

The battle for Kisumu Central constituency is now a two horse race.

This became clear after the political parties disputes tribunal ordered ODM to give the sitting MP Ken Obura the nomination certificate on Wednesday last week.

The court’s verdict left Obura to face Yusuf Ooro Odongo who declared almost three months ago that he would vie as independent candidate.

The talk in town is that it would be better to pick another contestant instead of one whom is viewed as being forced down the throat of the electorate. The move is also likely to lead to voter apathy.

Obura’s candidature is likely to face a stiff opposition if events before the party primaries are anything to go by.

When he was declared the ODM candidate in a controversial nomination whose results were announced on 25th April , there were street protests within parts of Kisumu such as Kondele and even in the CBD supporters of Fred Ouda who believed he had been cheated of his win.

Last week however the supporters were warned by security chiefs in the town not to try to vent their anger through street protests.

Mohammed Maalim, the county commissioner was categorical that they would not allow street protest in the area since such protests would compromise the thriving peace in the town.

The regional police boss Willy Lugusa also made it clear that the police will deal firmly with anyone trying to disrupt law and order within the region in the name of protesting nomination outcomes.

The Orange party appeared to have yielded to pressure and the information all over the constituency was that Ouda had been given the certificate. The confusion however did not end . Onyango Oloo who had just decamped from Jubilee and took part in the nominations also declared he had won . He soon moved to court to challenge the party’s move to give either of his opponents the certificate.

It was this move by Oloo that saw Obura ran away with the ticket after the tribunal directed ODM to the surprise of many in the constituency.

Political analysts now predict that Yusuf who decided early in the day to go independent may be the biggest winner in this whole episode.

Many believe voters who were behind Ouda, whom they feel was edged out unfairly are likely to vote in protest in favour of Yusuf.

Obura was at one point accused of being a jubilee sympathizer and was viewed to have been against the party especially when him together with other MPs from the region formed an outfit dubbed kalausi. This grouping never lasted long enough to achieve its aspirations.

He has always dismissed such claims as baseless and blamed it on his opponents whom he insist are out to paint him in bad light to win political capital.

However , most of the areas that the security agencies have identified as hot spots like Nyalenda and Kondele appeared to be hostile to him and before the party primaries, there were isolated incidences where his campaign teams ran into rough crowds.

It is not lost on analysts that Kisumu west constituency went to Ford Kenya in the last general elections after Olago Aluoch was allegedly rigged out . He moved to Ford Kenya and beat Rosa Buyu of ODM. This pattern might repeat itself in Kisumu Central and it may not be strange if the seat is lost to an indepent candidete .

Many people may also give sympathy vote to Yusuf who has suffered repeated election related violence for having picked to run on parties perceived to be unpopular in the region.

to wade off this tag of being in the wrong party, he chose to go as independent candidate and made it clear even in his Facebook account that he was supporting Raila Odinga, the NASA candidate.

Kisumu central has over 100,000 registered voters and being a cosmopolitan constituency , clan and tribe issues does not play a very critical role. Voters are likely to judge the candidates based on performance and not on issues like clan-ism .

The handling of the party primaries will definitely have an impact on how the candidates perform on the August polls.


African Press International

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