The announcement of Deputy President William Ruto as the president-elect could have a bearing on the outcome of the Kakamega and Mombasa gubernatorial elections, experts have opined.
Elections for the position of governor in the two counties were postponed to August 23 by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) after a mix-up in the printing of ballot papers.
The two races will pit the two major political formations in the last general election, Kenya Kwanza under the leadership of William Ruto and Raila Odinga's Azimio.ODM leader Raila Odinga with Mombasa governor Hassan Joho and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir in MombasaCourtesy
In Mombasa, outgoing Mvita Member of Parliament (MP) Abdulswalmad Nassir of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is facing- among others- former senator Hassan Omar of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA.
The race to succeed Wycliffe Oparanya as Kakamega Governor is projected to be between front-runners Fernandes Barasa of ODM and Cleophas Malala of the Amani National Congress (ANC) which is a signatory party of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
Political analysts have intimated that the win by Kenya Kwanza will buoy the coalition in trying to win the contests.
According to Mark Bichachi, a communication strategist and political analyst, the presidential election results are likely to demoralize Azimio supporters in the two counties where ODM has enjoyed massive support in the past.
Bichachi, however, downplayed the possibility of Kenya Kwanza riding on Ruto’s triumph to influence the outcome.
“It is obviously depressing for the Azimio supporters. Voter turnout will be lower but with the two regions being traditional ODM strongholds we do not expect a significant difference in the voting patterns,” Bichachi stated.
The perspective was corroborated by Philip Magal- a lawyer, and political analyst, who stated that it will not be a walk in the park for UDA and ANC despite their triumph in the presidential elections.
"Ruto's win is one of the factors Amongst many. UDA has some work to do. It won’t be a walk in the park," the Advocate of the High Court noted.
The Ruto Effect
However, Dr. Barrack Muluka- a seasoned political analyst holds that Ruto’s win will work in favor of the Kenya Kwanza candidates in the two elections.
According to Barrack, voting for an ODM candidate would imply that either of the regions would be in the opposition for the next five years.
“Absolutely. Kakamega now it’s Malala, unless you want to be in the Opposition. If I heard right during the campaigns, you wanted to be in the government,” he stated.
Dismas Mokua, a Political Risk Analyst agrees with Muluka, that Ruto's win will boost Kenya Kwanza's chances of beating Azimio in the two key races.
"Probability of Kenya Kwanza candidates winning both Mombasa and Kakamega is very high. Voters in both counties will want to align with the winning team consistent with the bandwagon effect.
President-elect Ruto will offer Kenya Kwanza unlimited support. The Ruto win will energize candidates and voters," stated Mokua.
Analysts have also projected a lower voter turnout in the two regions, likening the isolated polls to a by-election.
ODM bagged the majority seats in Mombasa County according to the results of the concluded elections. The Raila- led party bagged five out of the six constituencies, with only Mohammed Ali of UDA breaking the streak in Nyali.
The party also won the Woman representative and the senate seats to extend its dominance in the coast region politics.
In Kakamega, ODM also overshadowed other parties to win most seats in Kakamega County.
Kakamega and Mombasa are home to the two Deputy Party leaders of ODM, Wycliffe Oparanya and Ali Hassan Joho who are the outgoing governors in the counties.
Campaigns have been ongoing in the two regions as the residents hope to go back to the ballot on August 23.
Raila the Project
On her part, Maimuna Mwidau, a political and gender analyst, argues that the 'project' tag will still haunt Raila even during the by-elections.
"With regards to Mombasa, there has been a call by the locals for a change of guard. The candidate that is being seen to be the change is now part of the National government that will be formed soon.
Unfortunately, the candidate of the losing camp is seen as a project of the continuation of the previous leadership that the local populace is very much against. In this regard, a change at the top definitely influences the local level," explained Ms. Mwidau.
As for Kakamega, she added, "the dynamics are different but the push by Mudavadi and Wetangula may influence in one way or another."
Mwidau holds that Azimio still has a strong following and it may be a tight race for the two counties' gubernatorial race.Raila Odinga (center), Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya (left) and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho during a past public rally in 2018.File
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