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Fresh twist as Raila Odinga party picks Cornel Rasanga for governor by-election contest

 

From left, Colonel Rasanga (former Siaya governor), Carey Orege, Oduor Ongwen and Rashid Ibrahim, a National executive board member of  ODM  at Orange House, Wednesday. Rasanga was named CORD coalition’s candidate in the upcoming governor by-election in Siaya

From left, Colonel Rasanga (former Siaya governor), Carey Orege, Oduor Ongwen and Rashid Ibrahim, a National executive board member of ODM at Orange House, Wednesday. Rasanga was named CORD coalition’s candidate in the upcoming governor by-election in Siaya

CORD has nominated Cornel Rasanga to defend the Siaya governor’s seat after a flurry of meetings chaired by ODM party leader Raila Odinga, setting up another clash with his arch-rival William Oduol.

Oduol, the runners-up in the controversial March 4 gubernatorial elections, who later successfully challenged Rasanga’s election at the High Court, has promised another bitter duel. The choice of Rasanga as the ODM flag bearer was the culmination of a series of meetings since Monday by party chiefs determined to avert a falling out after five candidates expressed interest in the seat.

After yesterday’s day-long meeting of a joint ODM National Executive Council and National Elections Board, some of those jostling for the ticket were informed of the party’s choice before CORD co-principals Raila Odinga and Moses Wetang’ula arrived to unveil the team.

Rasanga is the first governor to lose his seat through an election petition. Oduol was one of those eyeing the ODM ticket and spent the better part of on Wednesday at Orange House.

But Oduol left at around 3pm, shortly before the party leaders made the announcement about their choice.

Top brass

This was after it became clear that the immediate former governor was going to clinch the nomination.

Also eyeing the seat were Raila’s confidants, Engineer Carey Orege and Oduor Ong’wen.

When contacted by The Standard, Oduol accused ODM’s top brass of scheming to have him time-barred from the race using protracted talks.

Candidates will present their papers to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) next Thursday ahead of the October 16 by-election. “I was invited by Raila two days ago and we had a meeting. Yesterday (Tuesday), we met with the party’s top brass until very late in the day and today (yesterday), I was again invited to Orange House by (Executive Director) Mr Magerer (Langat),” said Oduol.

“But whatever they have presented is not what we agreed,” Oduol added, referring to the nomination of Rasanga. “It seems these Orange people were buying time to have me locked out of the race but I am smarter. I will be on the ballot,” said Oduol, adding that he would vie on a National Agenda Party of Kenya ticket. Oduol had indicated that he would not vie for the seat if ODM held a free and fair nomination contest, but warned that if they imposed a candidate on the people of Siaya, then they should brace themselves for a major political battle.

Earlier, a deal had been struck to nominate Orege and have Oduol as his running mate, but party chiefs argued that this would disenfranchise voters in Siaya as the two were from the same village.

Political strategist

Engineer Orege is the immediate former PS for Regional Development and comes from Raila’s ancestral home of Bondo. Ong’wen has been the ODM party leader’s political strategist for many years.

Elisha Odhiambo, who cried foul during the last General Election after Jakoyo Midiwo secured the ODM nomination for the Gem seat, was the fifth person eyeing the ODM/ CORD nod. Midiwo, ODM Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o, Executive Director Lang’at, his deputy Ceaser Asiyo and NEB Commissioner Ibrahim Rashid as well as Nancy Abisai and Judy Parleno attended the meeting.

Senators James Orengo, Johnstone Muthama and Elizabeth Ongoro accompanied Raila and Wetang’ula to the press conference, described by the former Prime Minister as the unveiling of its candidates for the by-election.

Addressing journalists, Wetang’ula said CORD had resolved to have one candidate for the by-election scheduled for October 17.

Stephen Mule of Wiper and Kalembe Ndile of TIP will be the only CORD candidates for Matungulu and Kibwezi West constituencies respectively. Secretary-General Nyong’o announced that the other four candidates had agreed to back the ODM candidate. Orege and Ong’weny were present.

“It’s true there have been consultations as prescribed in the ODM nomination rules and regulations. In the final analysis, we had five candidates and we have managed to pick one,” said Nyong’o.

Wetang’ula said the decision to field a single candidate for the coalition was informed by the last General Election which was a free-for-all; a move that saw the coalition emerge with the minority in both Houses.

IEBC had set September 2 as the deadline for party primaries, a date that passed without the Orange team carrying out the exercise that was to involve party delegates in Siaya.

Just like in the January primaries that saw nominated MP Oburu Oginga and William Oduol disqualified after both claimed the party ticket for the governor’s seat, it has been a difficult journey for the party to decide who will run on the party ticket.

Rasanga’s rivals had accused him of making discriminatory appointments to various offices within the county government, an allegation he denied.

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