ODM expected Embakasi loss

The ODM party of Prime Minister Raila Odinga expected to lose the Embakasi seat in this week’s by elections, sources have revealed to the Nairobi Chronicle.

That explains why the top brass has been quiet even as the party’s candidate, Esther Passaris, vowed to petition the poll results. The Embakasi seat was won by PNU’s Ferdinand Waititu. All in all, in the five by elections held across Kenya, ODM took 3 seats while PNU won 2. ODM still retains a parliamentary majority with 103 seats but PNU and its affiliate parties have a total of 104.

ODM sources reveal that Ms Passaris chances were slim mostly because of the fact that she has no political roots in the Embakasi. During December’s General Elections, Ms Passaris quit her job as CEO of Adopt-a-Light to campaign for the ODM. In January, ODM leaders apparently promised Passaris that they would nominate her for Nairobi Mayor. When they did, the Minister for Local Government at the time, Uhuru Kenyatta, rejected the nomination.

According to Uhuru, Adopt-a-Light has pending legal cases with the Nairobi City Council and therefore the nomination of Passaris would represent a conflict of interest. ODM leaders failed to contest Uhuru’s decision much to the disappointment of Passaris.

When the Embakasi seat fell vacant in March after the murder of newly elected Member of Parliament, Mugabe Were, it was felt that Passaris should be allowed to contest as a reward for supporting ODM. However, the transition from CEO to the world of politics is turning out to be a difficult preposition for the outspoken lady who boasts Greek and Kenyan parentage. Indeed, most of the votes Passaris got in Embakasi were votes for the ODM party and not a genuine reflection voter confidence in her.

In contrast, Mr Ferdinand Waititu has campaigned for the Embakasi seat for several years. He was Deputy Mayor of Nairobi after the 2002 General Elections and already has an extensive political network from his base in Njiru, east of Nairobi. Mr Waititu is well known among Nairobi’s city councillors. Last year, the seat would have been his and PNU’s for the taking if major blunders hadn’t been made.

For its own reasons, the PNU party settled on former Mayor John Ndirangu for the Embakasi seat. Mr Waititu sought nomination on the Democratic Party in protest and was promptly slapped with criminal charges which he is still fighting today. Come election day, the candidacies of both Ndirangu and Waititu split their supporters, allowing ODM’s Were to sail through. The total number of votes for both Ndirangu and Waititu far exceeded those for Were. This time, the PNU learnt from its mistake and nominated Waititu for the race.

The late Mugabe Were won the Embakasi seat in part due to the ODM wave but also due to his political clout in the area. Mr Were had been a councillor in the Nairobi City Council for years before he decided to run for the Embakasi seat. He was well known among the youths for his involvement in community activities.

Unless ODM finds somebody with a grassroots network in Embakasi, it will be difficult for them to regain the seat in the near future.

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