All eyes will be on Ugenya Constituency which heads back to the polls on 5th April to elect a new member of parliament after the Job Chris Karan’s victory was nullified by the Supreme Court on grounds that his election was marred by malpractices thus not free and fair.
ODM which is the dominant party in the region, survived a major scare during the 2017 general elections in Ugenya Constituency.
In those election results, ODM’s Chris Karan won with 23,765 votes against MDG’s David Ochieng who garnered 23,418. Ugenya and Siaya County in general are ODM strongholds yet Ochieng was beaten by just 347 votes.
In that election, three other fringe candidates participated but their cumulative vote was merely 205 votes. They were Alex Obonyo (JP) who garnered 62 votes, Jerry Omogi (Ford-K) and Philip Onyango (ANC).
Daniel Juma, who is the Executive Director of Global Peace Foundation, introduces new perspectives into the by-election given he is from ODM and comes from the populous Ukwala ward.
Juma’s entry into the contest shifts the advantage to Ochieng since it will split votes which could have otherwise automatically gone to the ODM basket. Even if he opts not to run, Juma may persuade his supporters to vote for Ochieng. Together they can market themselves as development conscious leaders.
Ochieng who is from East Ugenya Ward left an enviable development record when he served the first term as an ODM MP. He has always insisted he was kicked out of ODM due to his prioritizing development over politcs of sycophancy.
Karan is from West Ugenya Ward has struggled to match Ochieng’s record during his short stint as MP. Apart from attending funerals, he has largely been seen as an absentee MP.
To further complicate matters for Karan, Ochieng has attracted significant sympathy votes due to botched ODM nominations which saw him unfairly lose ticket and lead to public disenchantment.
Karan remains a front runner because he enjoys the support of Raila Odinga who is the undisputed regional political leader and who has already endorsed his candidacy.
Ochieng’s only disadvantage is his perceived closeness to DP William Ruto and in the handshake season, it automatically puts him against the candidate supported by Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta.