Uhuru seeks to win hearts in western

By: PATRICK LANGAT

President Uhuru Kenyatta Sunday heads to the Opposition Cord’s Nyanza stronghold for the fifth time in his three-year Presidency, a day after a similar foray to Bungoma, the home turf of Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula.

Cord leader Raila Odinga was the preferred presidential candidate in the two regions in the March 2013 General Election and analysts say President Kenyatta’s three-day visit is an attempt at wooing away some voters from the Opposition’s grip.

The visit also covers the North Rift counties of Uasin Gishu, Nandi and Elgeyo-Marakwet.

Political scientist Tom Mboya said the Bungoma foray was the trickiest of the President’s visits.

“The President is headed to Bungoma at a time when the people there feel not only let down by the government over corruption and the economy, but there is also the hot potato of Senator Wetang’ula’s political future.”

Of the three Cord principals, Mr Wetang’ula is the only one who sits in Parliament and is arguably the most senior politician in western Kenya.

Mr Wetang’ula is facing a bleak political future after Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro published a Supreme Court ruling that he bribed voters.

Now the electoral commission is expected to expunge Mr Wetang’ula’s name from the list of voters, automatically locking him out of the next election.

WINNING VOTERS

The appointment of Mr Eugene Wamalwa as Water Cabinet secretary and Mr Musikari Kombo, Mr Wetang’ula’s nemesis, to a parastatal, is seen as an attempt by Jubilee to win some votes from the region.

The President’s visit, during which he is expected to meet leaders from the region at the Kakamega State Lodge after issuing a charter to Kibabii University College, comes at a time when Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi has been very vocal in his criticism of the government, even asking Mr Kenyatta to resign for what he says is his failure to steer the economy.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Mudavadi had a pre-election alliance where the latter was supposed to be the flag bearer before the President denounced the deal.

“The people of western Kenya know these things and they are ready to take on the President head on. Mr Kenyatta will have a hard time explaining himself to the people,” said Mr Mboya.

Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi, the chairman of the Western Parliamentary Caucus, said the meeting will discuss issues affecting the region’s economic development.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION