Make use of your numbers, Salat tells Luhya community


salat
File Photo: KANU Secretary General Nick Salat speaking in Trans Nzoia on Saturday June 25, 2016

KANU Secretary General Nick Salat has told the Luhya community to take advantage of their numbers to effect influence in Kenya’s political scene.

Salat who had accompanied Ford Kenya leader and CORD co-principal Moses Wetangula to a burial ceremony in Trans Nzoia said that the benefits that come with leadership should be a motivating factor to propel the Luhya community to speak with one voice and vote as a bloc.

“You are the second largest community in Kenya and if you use that well, you will be in power. We (the Kalenjin) have held a presidential position before and believe me once you have it, you will not want to let it go,” said Salat.

According to 2009 Census, there are 5.3 million Kenyans from the Luhya community, 500,000 more than the Kalenjin community. 6.3 million Kenyans, according to the data, are from the Kikuyu community.

The Luhya community has however failed to win the presidency with attempts by Kijana Wamalwa in 1997, and Musalia Mudavadi in 2013 failing to bear fruit.

The closest that the community has come to power is the vice president position held by Kijana Wamalwa after Mwai Kibaki won the presidential elections in 2002, a position that was taken up by Moody Awour in 2003 after the death of Wamalwa.

The community has also produced a Deputy Prime Minister, held by Musalia Mudavadi in the 2007 Grand Coalition government after a pact was reached between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga where the former became president and the latter Prime Minister in efforts to end the post-election violence.

Kibaki, during the same period appointed the now president Uhuru Kenyatta to be his Deputy Prime Minister.

Although it is not clear whether Salat’s statement can be interpreted to mean his willingness to support a Luhya presidential candidate or CORD coalition as a whole, his close links with CORD co-principals and involvement in the anti-IEBC protests, and KANU’s seemingly strained relation with its coalition partners in Jubilee could be a pointer to a probable realignment ahead of the 2017 General Election.

KANU entered a post-election pact with Jubilee after the 2013 elections, joining the coalition alongside the defunct UDF, led by the now Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi.

Rifts emerged shortly after, with the differences escalating further when KANU decided to field a candidate, Paul Sang, to face off with Jubilee’s Aaron Cheruiyot in the Kericho Senatorial by-election after the appointment of Charles Keter into Cabinet by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Cheruiyot however managed to win the seat, amid claims of voter bribery and rigging from KANU officials.

Western region’s inability to vote as a bloc has made it a hunting ground for presidential aspirants with CORD, Jubilee and ANC making regular trips to the region to gather support ahead of the 2017 elections.

In 2007 General Election for instance, Raila Odinga got 639,246 votes ahead of Mwai Kibaki who garnered 312,300 while Kalonzo Musyoka got 6,729 votes.

In the 2013 elections, CORD leader Raila Odinga got 755,525 votes beating the region’s ‘very own’ Musalia Mudavadi who garnered 353,864 while Uhuru Kenyatta got 66,185 votes.

In his latest visit to the region on Saturday, Deputy President William Ruto urged political leaders from the region to join Jubilee.

“I read in the papers the other day that I tried to recruit Ababu into Jubilee. Ababu and his peers have brains and can make their own decisions regarding whom they work with,” he said.

“Wetangula is working with Raila and Kalonzo while Uhuru and I work with Water CS Eugene Wamalwa and the others, does that mean he (Wetangula) has been bought?”

Speaking during a burial of Webuye West MP Daniel Wanyama’s mothers, Ruto extended an invitation to CORD Co-principal Moses Wetangula, who was also in attendance, saying there will be no post-election pacts after the 2017 elections.

Wetangula however rejected the invitation saying he is keen on consolidating the support he has to win the next election.

“I already have votes from this region and if I manage to get some more votes from your region and other parts of the country and win the next elections, I want Jubilee to accept the results…the same will be the case if Jubilee wins the elections.”

CORD leader Raila Odinga is set to hold a meeting in Busia on Monday in honour of the county women representative Florence Mutua who was detained alongside three other CORD legislators and three Jubilee MPs over allegations of hate speech.

Raila was in Vihiga just a week ago as one of the guests at the Miss Tourism Kenya event, where he spoke about the need to reform the IEBC and called for the region’s support in the 2017 election.

@benjaminwafula

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