Ruto, Raila sides start scramble for Msambweni

Deputy President William Ruto with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga during the final leg of the inaugural Kip Keino Classic World Athletics Continental Tour in honour of Kipchoge Keino at the Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi. [DPPS]

Various political formations are building their campaign strategies ahead of the Msambweni by-election.

ODM, which unveiled Omar Boga as its candidate last Friday, has singled out the Jubilee faction led by Deputy President William Ruto as its greatest threat even as it embarked on mobilising its supporters.

Boga beat Kwale County ODM Vice Chairman Nicholas Zani to clinch the party ticket in last Thursday’s primaries.

Feisal Bader, the nephew of the late area MP Suleiman Dori who has the support of Ruto, has mobilised campaigners including MPs from both ODM and Jubilee allied to the DP.

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On Saturday, Bader, 34, reached out to campaigners allied to former Jubilee aspirant Bakari Sebe, the Kwale County executive member for finance who has since quit the race citing the limited time the winner would serve in Parliament.

Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani (Jubilee) and his Kinango counterpart Benjamin Tayari of ODM said they were supporting Bader so that he can complete the projects initiated by Dori.

Sebe resigned from the race days before Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju announced that the ruling party would not challenge ODM for the Msambweni seat.

He was being fronted by Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya and his deputy Fatuma Achani, who hails from Msambweni.

His campaigners Mshenga Ruga and Fatuma Nchizumo told The Standard at Mwaroni Primary School over the weekend that they had decided to team up with Bader’s campaigners after Jubilee declined to field a candidate in the election.

Ruto is expected in Kwale later this month to raise funds in Kinango, Lunga Lunga and Msambweni constituencies.

Boga is counting on ODM’s dominance in the region and the backing of the Jubilee team allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta to counter his rivals.

The accountant promised a tough race ahead, saying he was ready to counter Ruto and his team to reclaim the ODM seat. 

The by-election is scheduled for December 15. Aspirants are set to present their papers to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission later this month.

Tough battle

“The party nomination was just a warm-up. We have a tough battle ahead to ensure we reclaim the ODM seat. This is an ODM stronghold and we have to win the seat,” Boga said in an interview.

The 48-year-old said he is basing his campaigns on his development record when he served for five years as Bongwe/Gombato MCA, particularly the construction of several secondary schools and settlement of squatters.

And as the political heat rose in Msambweni at the weekend, the local business community pleaded with politicians not to engage in chaos as they seek votes.

“Elections come and go. Msambweni is here for us all,” urged a retired hotelier, farmer and businessman.

Apart from party leader Raila Odinga and the team from Nairobi, the ODM’s Msambweni campaign will be headed by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho.

Other aspirants in the race are Sharlet Akinyi (Independent), Shee Mahmoud of Wiper Democratic Movement and Bashir Kilalo, who is seeking to run on Amani National Congress ticket. United Green Movement party has settled for Mohamed Mwakahonje.

Msambweni constituency has four county assembly wards and more than 68,500 registered voters.

Bongwe/Gombato ward has 17,500 voters, Ramisi has 18,500, Ukunda has 21,500 and Kinondo 11,000.

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