Western leaders pick Francis Atwoli Luhya spokesman

A section of political leaders from western region have endorsed the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli as the new negotiator in the formation of the next government.

Mr Atwoli’s endorsement now means he has replaced Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi who was in 2016 unveiled by the Cotu boss as the region’s spokesman at Bukhungu Stadium.

Mr Mudavadi’s unveiling was done following a study conducted by the University of Nairobi’s Department of Political Science, Public Administration and Economic Studies that picked him as the most preferred spokesman from the region with 39 per cent popularity.

On Sunday, four governors — Mr Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Mr Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Mr Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) and Wilbur Ottichilo (Vihiga) — met a team of 18 MPs that came up with resolutions from a meeting that lasted more than seven hours.

Form next government

Through the resolutions read by Mr Ottichilo, the leaders who said they are pro-handshake, appointed Mr Atwoli to coordinate and help the western region in negotiating for its stakes and ensure it forms part of the next government.

“From today, the western region will speak in one voice and will not entertain any leader who will not work with others towards forming the next government. The community shall by all means strive to form or be part of the next government,” read the resolutions.

The meeting further mandated Mr Atwoli to start negotiating immediately with the leading presidential contender in the handshake team before December 31, 2021 when they will meet for Bukhungu II, a meeting intended to review the strategic engagement of the region.

Through the negotiations, Mr Atwoli is expected to lead the region in formulating modalities to raise necessary campaign resources.

Mr Ottichilo said the region’s priority is to ensure it negotiates the formation of the next government.

Even though the meeting was expected to bring all leaders from the region together, Mr Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula did not attend.

Move in one direction

Speaking after his appointment, Mr Atwoli said the region will move in one direction as the country heads to the 2022 General Election.

“There is no reason to be divided. We are united with a stand and we know where we are going. This meeting was not meant to alienate anybody from the region from the political mainstream because we focused on issues and not personalities,” he said.

Speaking separately, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala dismissed the decision to have Mr Atwoli as the region’s spokesman, accusing governors from western of attempting to reduce Mr Mudavadi’s influence in the region in favour of ODM leader Raila Odinga.

According to Mr Malala, the meeting at Golf Hotel was meant to strategise on modalities of rejuvenating the ODM party and its leadership in western after it emerged that it was losing ground.

Focus on Mudavadi

“As for us in ANC, we are not in the business of negotiating for the region’s leadership. We are focusing on Musalia’s chances of becoming the fifth president. If you are not a presidential candidate or a party leader, don’t place yourself as a strategic negotiator for the people of western region,” he said.

Mr Malala asked governors from western region who are completing their terms to stop confusing the unity of the people of the region by forcing in the leadership of ODM.

He noted that western had supported ODM and Mr Odinga in the past elections and it was time for the region to focus on a party and leadership that is from within the community.

“We have ANC and we have Musalia Mudavadi and they should give us a break because the present politics in the country is ethnically based,” Mr Malala added

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