KenyaToday

Jan 20, 2022

Revealed! How OKA Has Complicated Ruto And Raila State House Ambitions

Deputy President William Ruto and his political archrival ODM leader Raila Odinga are now puzzled with the third force by One Kenya Alliance (OKA) which may complicate the State House race.

According to reports on Thursday, January 20, if the outfit fields a candidate or has its principals run for State House separately, a presidential run-off is likely this year.

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Should voter turnout in Mt Kenya be low or if Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga secure a significant portion of the region's votes, the two top contenders in the August 9 contest are even more likely to face off once more.

If these factors come into play, neither Mr Odinga nor Deputy President William Ruto, the apparent front runners in President Kenyatta's succession, are likely to win the first round.

Ruto under pressure

The DP is under pressure to repeat Jubilee's election victories in the past two elections, which were won thanks to high voter turnout in Mt Kenya, which reached 94 percent in some counties.

The 10 Mt Kenya counties accounted for over half of the total votes cast in both elections, highlighting the bloc's importance in keeping the President and his deputy out of a run-off.

According to the Constitution, in order to be declared the winner of a presidential election, a candidate must receive at least 50% plus one of the total votes cast. He or she must also receive at least 25% of the vote in a minimum of 24 counties.

Rematch

If none of the candidates meets the minimum requirements, a rematch between the two leading contenders must be held within 30 days of the General Election. The President and his deputy narrowly missed the first-round win threshold by 8,000 votes in the 2013 General Election, which saw a high voter turnout of 86 percent.

President Kenyatta received 6,172,482 votes (50.07%) to Mr Odinga's 5,340,546 votes (43.31 per cent).

The President received 3.2 million votes (52%) from the counties of Nyeri, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Meru, Embu, Tharaka-Nithi, Murang'a, Nyandarua, Laikipia, and Nakuru.

In 2017, President Kenyatta increased his lead over Mr Odinga, polling 8,203,290 votes (54.27 percent) to 6,762,224 votes for the former Prime Minister (44.74 per cent). In an election with an average voter turnout of 78 percent, the President received 4.1 million (50 percent) of the 8.2 million votes cast.

However, the election was declared null and void by the Supreme Court, and Mr Odinga boycotted the re-election, in which the Head of state was largely re-elected by his bastions.

Mt Kenya key

Failure of the Mt Kenya region to turn out in large numbers, combined with a possible decision by OKA to run, would make it extremely difficult for either candidate to win outright. Mr Odinga's 2013 and 2017 support bases in Ukambani, Coast, and Western Kenya would be harmed.

Sadly for Dr Ruto, the factors that contributed to the massive voter turnout in Mt Kenya are unlikely to hold, especially in light of recent events such as his feud with his boss.

Another significant risk of lower voter turnout in Mt Kenya is that, for the first time since 1992, the region will be without a presidential candidate.

Following the peace accord with President Kenyatta, who is presumed to be supporting ODM leader Raila Odinga's presidential bid, anti-Raila sentiment appears to be fading.

Raila additional votes

Because former Odinga critics are campaigning for him in Mt Kenya, any additional votes Azimio la Umoja receives in the region will be at the expense of the DP.

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If Odinga were to gain even 30% of the vote in just the 10 Mt Kenya counties, that would amount to an additional 1.3 million votes, potentially tipping the election in his favour. This is only possible if he keeps his strongholds from 2013 and 2017, which would be a tall order if OKA were to run in the State House race.

"If the people of Mount Kenya decide to field a presidential candidate, a run-off may be necessary. If that candidate receives 60% to 70% of the vote, it will completely demolish DP Ruto's arithmetic," according to political analyst Herman Manyora.

Dr Ruto has embraced the "Hustler Nation" campaign slogan, which he claims transcends tribal voting patterns, perhaps as a result of the realization that he won't be able to count on the Mt Kenya and Rift Valley vote blocs this time.

Things more complicated to Raila

For Mr Odinga, however, things are more complicated. Given that he received less than 50% of the national vote in the previous two elections, the ODM leader is already at a disadvantage.

And, while he might gain support in Mt Kenya, Mr Musyoka would lose his Ukambani base if he ran as the OKA candidate or independently, despite maintaining a tight grip on the Lower Eastern vote.

The ODM boss has the support of Ukambani governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), and Alfred Mutua (Machakos), but Mr Musyoka has demonstrated that he has political control of the region in the 2013 and 2017 polls.

Ukambani vote block

Mr Odinga received 768,025 votes in Kitui, Makueni, and Machakos counties in 2013 and 968,437 votes in 2017. With the region's vote expected to rise to 2.1 million, the Ukambani bloc may be the single most powerful bloc that someone other than Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto can bankroll.

If the entire bloc – or even a significant portion of it – was removed from Mr Odinga's tally, the chances of the ODM leader achieving 50% of the national vote would become even slimmer.

This could explain President Kenyatta's push for OKA to support Mr Odinga.

Prof Kibwana claims that OKA is out to sabotage the other candidates' chances of winning.

"OKA's presidential campaign appears to be a bid to force a presidential election run-off in 2022, not to ensure the coalition's victory." That's a risky move, because subsequent selection into the winning team will be equally risky." he said. Prof Kibwana believes that Kenyans will not vote for candidates who are unlikely to win.

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