Star (Kenya)

Apr. 06, 2017, 12:15 am

ODM is staring at chaotic nominations that could once again derail the presidential bid of party leader Raila Odinga.

Staggered primaries kick off tomorrow.

Days after violence shattered an Monday ODM campaign in Migori, leading to the shooting of Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho’s bodyguard, Raila’s political nerve center Orange House yesterday was turned into a battlefield.

Nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro stormed party headquarters, accompanied by hundreds of rowdy youths and women. They roughed up Executive Director Oduor Og’wen and wrestled him to the ground.

ODM national youth chairman John Ketora fired several times in the air to disperse the rowdy youths.

As primaries begin tomorrow, it is feared such violence may recur.

Ongoro was barred from running for Ruaraka MP on disciplinary grounds but has accused the party’s National Elections Board of malice.

Ongoro bitterly claimed Og’wen and election board chair Judith Pareno were compromised by her competitor, Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang, to block her from running.

“I have information the person who was supposed to have been disciplined (Kajwang) used a lot of money. The elections chair of this party was given Sh1 million, the executive director was given Sh500,000 to come up with a decision that is so unfair,” Ongoro protested.

But in an interview with the Star, Ong’wen rejected bribery claims. Pareno did not answer our calls and did not respond to text messages.

Kajwang has denied dishing out money to anyone.

“Those are figments of fertile imaginations,” he told the Star.

ODM Party chief executive Oduor Ong’wen is confronted by youths who accused him or irregularly awarding Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang’ direct nomination, April 5, 2017. /JACK OWUOR

Ong’wen said the party’s central management committee agreed that either Ongoro or Kajwang should be convinced run for another seat, claiming they had “turned Ruaraka into a theater of violence”.

“We wrote to Ongoro and asked her to meet the party for the talks over a new deal. She is now in Ruaraka and Kajwang is the incumbent,” the ODM secretariat boss said.

Ongoro also claimed the lucrative tender to print all ODM nomination papers was awarded to a firm owned by a senior party official.

The ODM elections board is made up of Judith Pareno (chairperson), Ibrahim Rashid, Robert Arunga (secretary), Edward Nyale and Lora Anindo.

In 2013, ODM primaries were marred by turmoil, a series of defections and street demonstrations by dejected party members. Popular candidates defected in protest and chaos slowed down Raila’s campaigns.

Ongoro and Kajwang supporters clashed last month in a violent encounter that left one dead. The incident signaled the looming battle in many ODM-controlled regions for the prized party certificate.

On Monday, Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o attempted to endorse Migori governor aspirant and former Rongo MP Ochillo Ayacko. The incident triggered massive violence in Migori and DPP has ordered investigations.

However, the endorsement in the presence of Deputy ODM leader Hassan Joho, the Mombasa governor, was interpreted to have the blessings of top party leadership.

Also present were Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, who is the party’s director of elections, and Siaya Senator James Orengo who co-chairs NASA’s National Coordinating Committee and wields immense influence in Raila’s inner circle.

Migori Governor Okoth Obado was insulted and warned Orengo and Nyong’o his county is off-limits.

In Homa Bay, ODM national chairman John Mbadi is supporting Governor Cyprian Awiti amid protests that he may use his position to influence the race.

Already a storm has erupted in the county over claims the party elections board named partisan individuals to the County Elections Board.

Some aspirants from Kasipul yesterday accused election board member Robert Arunga of interfering in appointment of the Constituency Election Coordination Committee.

Today disgruntled aspirants will hold talks in Nairobi before meeting Raila.

ODM Party chief executive Oduor Ong’wen is confronted by youths who accused him or irregularly awarding Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang’ direct nomination, April 5, 2017. /JACK OWUOR

In an interview with the Star, the politicians said most officials in the CECC are linked to Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti.

The intention, they said, is to manipulate primaries in favour of certain candidates.

Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga, one of Awiti’s rivals, said NEB picked individuals from the governor’s campaign team.

“We have reported this to the NEB we know Robert Arunga is behind this. We thought these old tricks would not recur in this elections and that cartels have had enough time. These things will not add value to our presidential campaigns. Arunga should stop these games,” Magwanga told the Star.

In Kasipul, he said, Evans Ndege, who has chaired another aspirant Ongondo Were’s campaign team, was appointed chairman of the local election panel.

Magwanga said Ndege is a known ally of Awiti and previously waged a protracted battle for ODM chairmanship in the constituency.

Other supposed allies of Were picked to oversee ODM nominations include Pamela Owidi, Mary Mimba and Eric Miguna who is spearheading Ongondo’s campaign in Kadel area.

He said the county was too volatile and political provocation of the innocent public should be avoided.

Fierce competition is expected many areas including Busia where Funyula MP Paul Otuoma is facing Governor Sospeter Ojaamong.

In Kisumu, Nyong’o, a close Raila ally, will face off with Governor Jack Ranguma.

In Home Bay, Awiti faces a tough battle from Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga and businessman Sam Wakiaga.

In Nairobi, Kibra MP Ken Okoth will face former Raila aide Eliud Owalo.