Two Jubilee MPs from the Kuria region in Migori County have thrown their weight behind Mr Eddy Gicheru Oketch, the Federal Party of Kenya candidate.
Jubilee Party has not fielded a candidate in the race and it had hinted through Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju that it would campaign for the Orange Democratic Movement party candidate Ochilo Ayacko.
However, speaking during a church event in Suna West Sub-County on Saturday, Kuria West MP Mathias Nyababe Robi and his Kuria East counterpart Marwa Maisori Kitayama maintained that as Jubilee legislators, they cannot support ODM’s candidate.
During Deputy President William Ruto’s visit in Kuria a fortnight ago, Mr Robi declared that the region would not support ODM in the senatorial race.
“You know I am happy to have seen Eddy here in church seeking for votes. So if such a young man has come here to bring development, why can’t you vote for him? I have no problem with him. Eddy will get my vote,” Mr Robi said.
“Even Baba (ODM leader Raila Odinga) knows me. I cannot support ODM. Eddy is the only candidate I have met and I believe he has the right qualities to be the senator.”
“You know we are in Jubilee and as Jubilee we cannot support ODM. We are in the same county called Migori and we breathe the same air but we are politically apart even with the handshake,” Mr Kitayama said.
The duo’s move is likely to tilt the coveted Kuria votes – about 87,000 – in favour of Mr Oketch.
Aware of this reality, Mr Oketch and Mr Ayacko, who are the front runners in the race, have pitched tent in the regions in a bid to sway the residents.
The region gravitates towards Jubilee but given that the party does not have a candidate, the voters are open to any candidate who manages to woo them.
But the ODM factor is likely to play in favour of Mr Ayacko. The party commands a huge following in the region and Mr Raila Odinga is popularly perceived to be the political kingpin in the larger Nyanza region.
A team of ODM MPs including Pamela Odhiambo (Migori Woman Representative), Ms Dennitah Ghati (nominated MP), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Junet Mohammed (Suna East), Paul Abuor (Rongo) and Tom Odege (Nyatike), has been traversing all the eight sub-counties to drum up support for Mr Ayacko.
“We are leaving nothing to chance. ODM is the most popular party in the region and we will make sure that it retains the seat through Mr Ayacko,” party chairman John Mbadi said.
However, Mr Ayacko has maintained that he is not merely banking on the ODM wave in the county.
“I am in this race to sell my agenda to the people and to be elected on the basis of my qualities as a leader. I believe I have what it takes to win the race,” he said.
Other contestants are Peter Jobando (Green Congress Party), Otieno Otieno (independent) and Ogolla Ogolla (independent).
The seat fell vacant following the death of Ben Oluoch Okello who succumbed to throat cancer in June this year. The by-election is slated for October 8.
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