The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party has settled on former Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) Director General Pavel Oimeke to fly the party’s flag in Bonchari constituency by-election slated for May 18th.
Oimeke emerged the favourite in the race that attracted three candidates including immediate former Kisii County Government Environment and Water CEC John Bill Momanyi and businessman David Ogega.
The late Bonchari MP Oroo Oyioka’s widow Teresia Bitutu who had shown interest in the party’s ticket changed her mind at the last minute and joined UDA which is associated with Deputy President William Ruto.
ODM National Elections Board Chairperson Catherine Mumma confirmed that the party received papers from the three candidates but businessman Bill Ogega was disqualified after it emerged that he was not a life member of the party.
“According to our records when he vied for the Bonchari seat as an independent candidate in 2017 and lost, he did not come back to regularize his ODM membership,” she said.
She said, the party was forced to engage in mediation to pick between Pavel Oimeke and John Bill Momanyi. The mediation however did not bear fruit prompting the party’s top elections organ to enlist the services of a consultant to pick the candidate.
ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said Oimeke was the most popular candidate expressing optimism that he will deliver the seat for the Orange party.
Addressing the media in Kisumu on Wednesday, Sifuna said the system used in selection of the candidate was in accordance with the party’s constitution.
Sifuna said the Bonchari by-election will be a true test of democracy urging the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to put in place urgent measures to tame violence and malpractices as witnessed in the just concluded Matungu and Kabuchai by-elections.
“IEBC must ensure we have free and fair elections by taking action against anybody who attempts to subvert the will of the people,” he said.
The Orange party, he said, has put in place measures to ensure that the Bonchari by-election is free and fair adding that the party will not tolerate any acts of violence or intimidation by groups or individuals who want to steal victory.
By Chris Mahandara