Jul 28, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Tough by-elections test ‘Handshake’ pact

Mr Odinga’s ODM, which failed to win a single parliamentary seat in the region in the 2017 elections, overcame strong resistance from President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party to secure the seat, amid claims of harassment by police.

Yesterday, Mr Odinga warned that his March 9, 2018 pact with Mr Kenyatta, dubbed the ‘Handshake’ , should not be taken for granted by “rogue elements” with “imaginary and short-legged political interests.”

“What we have witnessed in the by-elections in Bonchari and Juja is an abuse of police powers and an arrogant display of impunity by a few overzealous and bellicose government functionaries. Security forces exist to serve the people and not the interests of those out to conduct political experiments,” Mr Odinga said, alluding to the heavy deployment of police in Bonchari and arrests of ODM members.

Celebrating the victory of the party’s candidate, Mr Pavel Oimeke, ODM National Treasurer Timothy Bosire warned their partners in Jubilee to expect political consequences, more so to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), an offshoot of the ‘Handshake’.

“If what we saw in Bonchari is what Jubilee is calling BBI, then ODM is not party to it. We shall face our opponents with or without amending the constitution,” Mr Bosire declared.

On Tuesday, ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna had also expressed his dissatisfaction with how the party had been treated, saying, they would review the partnership.

Mr Oimeke beat his closest challenger Mr Zebedeo Opore (Jubilee) by 770 votes in an election that saw a 50.09 percent voter turnout (26,526 votes).

Closely contested by-election

Mr Oimeke garnered 8,049, Mr Opore (7,279) while the candidate of Deputy President William Ruto-linked United Democratic Alliance, Ms Teresa Bitutu, came third with 6,964 votes.

Ms Bitutu is former MP Oroo Oyioka’s widow. The death of Mr Oyioka, who had been elected on a People Democratic Party ticket, occasioned the by-election that attracted 13 candidates.

The by-election also put Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i’s influence on Gusii politics in sharp focus. Dr Matiang’i who is said to have an interest in the presidency in next year’s elections, has been rallying his Gusii community behind him.

And although Dr Matiang’i has not been seen in Gusii for the last two months, ODM and UDA leaders blamed him for their woes while campaigning in Bonchari.

Yesterday, Dr Matiang’i’s supporters, among them Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo and Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka, said it was wrong to drag the CS in every issue in the country and particularly in his Gusii backyard.

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