Bungoma ODM candidates have said they will not heed their leader Raila Odinga’s plea to step down in favour of their rivals in Ford Kenya, including Senator Moses Wetangula.
The leaders, who held a joint press conference on Saturday, instead stated that they have worked hard for the positions and cannot afford to give them up.
“We have held a meeting and agreed that none of us will step down for Ford Kenya,” Senatorial candidate Boniface Nyongesa who is seeking to unseat Wetangula told Capital FM News after the press conference held in Bungoma.
Odinga had on Friday urged them to step down, and specifically pleaded with Nyongesa to give Wetangula a chance to continue representing the people.
But when asked Saturday if he will heed the party leader’s call, he said “I cannot step down since the Bungoma people have said that they want me. My name will be in the ballot and people will vote for me. I have not talked to Raila and as candidates; we have issued a statement and said we cannot sacrifice our posts.”
He explained that given they had supported Wetangula the same way in the 2013 elections, it made sense for him not to contest for the seat.
He further claimed that the Ford Kenya leader has been destroying ODM from within and no one was open to the idea of stepping down for him.
“He has been fighting us even more than Jubilee and he is a Co-Principal. So we have said that since we supported him before, he is the one who should respectfully step down since in the 2013 by-elections, he asked us to step down and we did so that he won,” he stated. “Wetangula will make ODM to lose all the votes in Bungoma.”
He accused Wetangula of seeking a shortcut to the seat and indicated that he will not succeed in his endeavors, a day after Odinga pleaded with them to step down.
“Wetangula has lost ground. He wants to use a shortcut and that is not possible. He should have fronted someone from Ford Kenya to compete in the elections. His strategy will impact negatively for the NASA campaigns,” he stated.
On Friday, Odinga waded into Bungoma County’s politics by campaigning for Wetangula to retain his Senate seat, drawing anger from his supporters.
He urged voters to overwhelmingly back Wetangula, promising to convince ODM candidate Boniface Nyongesa to step down.
In the NASA leadership line-up, Wetangula has been slotted the position of Deputy Premier Cabinet Secretary if the Opposition forms the next government.
NASA affiliate parties have also fielded governor candidates in the region in a bid to unseat Jubilee’s Kenneth Lusaka.