- Mr Okoth’s election is welcome news to those who successfully fended off a serious challenge from Deputy President William Ruto.
- In essence, Mr Okoth is just a pawn in a bigger, high-stakes game, after serving successfully as a political guinea pig of “Team Handshake”.
As the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party pops the champagne to celebrate its victory in Kibra, politicians allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta as well as governors from Ukambani, Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Prof Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) among others, are savouring the Raila Odinga-led party’s poll success.
Ideally, the election of Orange Democratic Movement’s (ODM) Bernard Otieno Okoth, alias Imran, as Kibra member of Parliament is expected to firm up the prospects of a new political alliance revolving around the President Uhuru Kenyatta and the former Prime Minister.
Following the unity pact between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga in March 2018, aimed at promoting national cohesion, Mr Okoth’s election is welcome news to those who successfully fended off a serious challenge from Deputy President William Ruto, who spearheaded a serious onslaught against “the handshake candidate”.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, a few days before the poll, aptly captured the contest: “The Kibra poll is just the first in our several stages ahead of the 2022 polls. Next is the BBI (Building Bridges Initiative) and we must focus on this one fully kwa sababu serikali ijayo itatokea hapo ndani (because the next government will be formed by actors in this initiative).”
Going by her sentiments, repeated on several occasions by nominated MP Maina Kamanda, who was a prominent player on the ODM campaign trail, Jubilee Party politicians allied to the President view Mr Okoth’s win as a deserving reward to the Kenyatta-Odinga deal.
In essence, Mr Okoth is just a pawn in a bigger, high-stakes game, after serving successfully as a political guinea pig of “Team Handshake”.
According to Mr Kamanda, “He is our first handshake candidate, but certainly not the last. This is just the beginning and we are going to have many more to come, including for the top seat in 2022.”
Indeed, Mr Okoth is not the first pre-election coalition candidate in Kenya’s recent history.
Over the time, political bigwigs wooing one another have tended to test the waters and solidify their political marriages ahead of upcoming general elections. However, the experiment has not been entirely successful.