The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party on Saturday unveiled its candidate for the October 17 by-election in Ganda Ward in Kilifi County.
Reuben Katana, who lost to Abdulrahman Mohamed in the 2017 elections, was declared the ODM flag bearer in the ward following a consensus between three candidates who had expressed interest in the seat on the party’s ticket.
Katana, unsuccessfully vied on a Kadu Asili ticket in 2017 but contested Mohamed’s win in court. Mr. Mohamed will seek to retain the seat as an independent candidate and is expected to be backed by outspoken Malindi Member of Parliament Aisha Jumwa, who has fallen out with her party.
The other candidates who had expressed interest in the seat on an ODM ticket were Ibrahim Kaniki and Erastus Katana alias King’ale, but after intense negotiations, there was consensus that Mr. Katana vies on the orange party.
Tension had been rife among party members over the party’s nominations that were slated for Sunday, amid fear that there would have been a fallout that could have disadvantaged the party in the face of a strong contest from the independent candidate.
Kaniki and King’ale announced their withdrawal from the race in favour of Katana at a Malindi hotel in the presence of Members of County Assembly (MCAs) Nixon Mramba (Kakuyuni), Gilbert Peru (Sokoni) and Kadenge Dadu (Malindi Town) among other ODM leaders.
Katana will now enjoy the backing of ODM leader, Raila Odinga, and Kilifi and Mombasa Governors, Amason Kingi and Hassan Joho, who will have to put up a spirited fight to ensure that Kilifi County remains a no go zone for other parties. The party swept all the elective seats in the county 2017.
Jumwa will seek to humiliate her party boss and his cohorts and confirm her belief that ODM has lost ground in the county, following her tribulations with the party and the subsequent clamour to strip her of her seat and her position at the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).
Giving his acceptance speech, Mr. Katana said he was the most popular candidate and urged his supporters to come out in large numbers during the by-election and vote for him.
“Those who say ODM is no longer popular in this region are in for a rude shock,” he said, while assuring his party chiefs that he would deliver the seat to ODM.
Mramba, who made the declaration of Katana’s candidature said the rumours of nominations had brought disquiet in the party and said he was happy it ended through consensus.
Mohamed has however said he would retain his seat as he believes he won fairly during the 2017 elections.
By Emmanuel Masha