President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga could be faced with a tough task to sell the BBI considering the resounding win by candidates allied to Deputy President William Ruto in the just concluded by elections.
Feisal Badder’s victory in the Msambweni MP by-election as well as Gaturi, Lake View, and Dabaso wards have been touted as a strong political statement to the handshake duo.
Deputy President William Ruto backed Feisal, hence can be surmised that he had beaten the Raila and Uhuru side.
Eliud Owalo, a former Raila aide now Ruto ally, says the election outcome has a bearing on the 2022 general elections.
“Taking the Msambweni outcome as a baseline value, the envisaged results of Kenya’s 2022 elections can clearly be projected in totality,” Owalo said.
Raila recently said the Msambweni vote would be a litmus test for the popularity of the Building Bridges Initiative – his campaign with President Kenyatta to amend the constitution.
“This election is not just about Kwale or Msambweni, but will show where we are heading to. We are promoting the BBI at the moment. The sieve is here. It will define if BBI will win or not. If ODM is beaten here, BBI will have a problem,” the ODM leader said.
Omar Boga, who carried the ODM flag, lost with a margin of 4,807 votes in the results declared by the polls agency IEBC on Tuesday night.
Feisal pulled a surprising win with 15,251 votes against Boga’s 10,444 of the 27,313 votes cast in the poll.
The little–known politician defied opinion polls which had projected the ODM candidate would win.
ODM conceded defeat in the poll. “We came up short in Msambweni and Wundanyi/Mbale but we regroup and forge ahead. Thanks to all our teams everywhere for the great effort,” Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said.
“We didn’t give it our best. We did not show hunger for the seat as we normally do. Let’s dust off and bounce back. We remain strong,” Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma said.
Msambweni is likely to add momentum to the Hustler movement, pace it was slowly losing in the face of the DP’s signals on the BBI.
This may be accelerated by the fact that the DP never stepped at the constituency to campaign for his supposed candidate.
“The hustler nation Msambweni is fired up,” Ruto’s close ally Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu MP) said on Wednesday.
“It’s a win-win for Jubilee. Those in the headquarters lost as those with the people won,” Soy MP Caleb Kositany said.
The Jubilee deputy secretary general added: “Never did I ever imagine that I would celebrate my party’s loss in an election, but circumstances forced me to.”
Raila camped there twice whereas his handshake partner President Uhuru Kenyatta was captured in a photo with Omar Boga by his side at the launch of the Likoni floating bridge.
The President’s Jubilee party did not field a candidate in favour of ODM, citing the gains of the March 2018 handshake.
Ruto, having been boxed out by the party’s decision, fronted Feisal. He hosted the MP elect at his Karen offices, clearly signaling which side of the poll he was.
ODM’s loss could also be a statement on Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho’s grip of the Coast region.
Running battles, chaos, and arrests featured for a better part of Tuesday as the two sides sought to protect their votes.
There were claims of voter bribery. A number of leaders were arrested on charges of obstructing the smooth conduct of the election.
Leaders condemned the chaos saying it negated the essence the Bridges agenda of peace and unity.
“Msambweni tension, bravado, abundant reckless abuses, obscenities and hate speech mitigated by the helpless state apparatus is a complete antithesis of the bridges of peace, harmony and tranquility that Kenyans are hoping for. We must do better,” Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula said.