Nairobi — The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) on Monday locked out Finance Assistant Minister Oburu Odinga and his rival William Oduol from the Siaya gubernatorial race after ruling that the just-ended nominations were flawed.
Otieno Okanja who emerged third in the battle for the ODM ticket was handed a direct nomination by the board which acted on recommendations of the party's National Executive Council.
ODM National Elections Board (NEB) chairman Franklin Bett told journalist on Monday night that the decision to award a direct ticket was permitted under the party's nomination rules.
"The National Executive Council has authorised NEB to nominate a candidate but in this nomination Oburu and Oduol will not be candidates in Siaya. We took that easy position on Okanja because there were three candidates in Siaya," announced Bett citing section 3.3 of the nomination rules.
The section provides that: "The NEB may with the written approval of the National Executive Committee (NEC) grant a candidate an automatic nomination."
Oburu who was present at the briefing hesitantly accepted the decision insisting that he had won the ticket, but remains committed to staying in ODM and supporting the presidential candidature of his younger brother, Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Oburu distanced himself from acts of violence that were witnessed during the nomination in Siaya instead heaping blame on his opponents.
"It is really something I accept with reluctance because I know it has been prompted by a lot of pressure placed on my brother (Raila) and me. It is a decision which has weighed down heavily on me... I sincerely believe that I won," said Oburu while citing logistical nightmares that were experienced in the nomination.
Oduol was notably absent at the briefing.
The ODM appeals board also decided to retain outgoing Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo as its nominee for the parliamentary race.
The ODM appeals board sitting under the chairmanship of Joseph Kiangoi had kept the public guessing after twice cancelling media briefings on the outcome.
Earlier on Monday, Odinga's sister Ruth Adhiambo withdrew from the hotly contested battle for the Kisumu gubernatorial ticket, a decision she said was for the sake of peace in the lakeside town which witnessed pockets of violence over her alleged nomination.
"In my campaigns I have gone out of my way to convince voters but due to the fuss generated, I would rather have peace," she said.
ODM which was working hard to submit its list of nominees to The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) by midnight is expected to make public its list on Tuesday.