The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Raila Faces Crisis Over Oburu Nomination

PRIME Minister Raila Odinga personally asked both his brother Oburu and his sister Ruth to both step down for the sake of peace in Nyanza.

Ruth accepted her brother's appeal and gave up her aspirations for the Kisumu governor nomination. However Oburu refused leaving the ODM dispute resolutions board split over the issue last night.

ODM elections board chairman Frankline Bett was being forced to consult further last night before announcing whether Oburu or William Oduol would be given the Siaya governor ticket.

Yesterday the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission extended up to midnight the deadline for political parties to submit their list of nominees for candidates in the March 4 elections.

Raila consulted widely before advising his brother and sister to back down. "I spoke to Raila on behalf of the council and told him that Oburu did not win the election and there were no polls in Kisumu. Because of that the best way was for both of them to step down and he promised to do that," said Willis Otondi, chairman of the Luo council of elders.

Raila also requested his cousin former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo to reconsider his controversial nomination for GEM MP after the vote was contested.

On Sunday, violence broke out in Kisumu after it was rumoured that Ruth, Midiwo and Oburu had all been nominated by ODM to be the party candidates in the elections.

Yesterday Oduol made it clear to the ODM dispute resolution team led by Joseph Kiangoi that he would not accept any other position than Siaya governor because he had won the ticket.

Yesterday morning Raila spoke to Oburu and asked him to stand aside but he refused. Oburu argued that he had won the nomination and should not be sacrificed just because he is Raila's elder brother.

On Friday the Siaya returning officer went missing for several hours saying that she had been threatened. On her return, she declared Oburu the winner.

The standoff between Oburu and Oduol forced the ODM National Elections Board to postpone a scheduled press conference yesterday evening where they were due to announce their verdicts on disputed contests.

On Sunday night Raila reportedly told his younger sister Ruth to drop her bid. "The PM told Ruth that although he respected her democratic right to stand, he would appreciate if she thought about the chaos her entry into politics had caused and decide if she wanted to continue with her quest," said a close associate of Raila.

Ruth quit the Kisumu governor race in a press statement yesterday morning. "I would like to step down for the sake of peace and the PM... I did vie as Ruth Odinga and not as a member of the Odinga family," she stressed.

She says she is only shelving her ambition until 2017 but will continue supporting her brother for the top job. "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.

"I am in ODM and I will support the PM and the candidate for Kisumu governor and I will be back in the race after five years."

Her exit leaves the position of Kisumu governor open for her main challenger Jack Ranguma. The Sunday demonstrations took place simultaneously in Kisumu, Nyando and Maseno where roads leading to Kisumu town were blocked and transport paralysed.

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