AFC Leopards elections take a tribal twist

Tribal politics are at the centre of the late withdrawal of Interim Management Committee (IMC) co-chairman, Mathews Opwora, from the race for the AFC Leopards top seat in Sunday’s election.

Opwora threw in the towel on Thursday leaving Mombasa Branch chairman; Michael Amahwa, former Football Kenya Federation vice-president, Robert Asembo and IMC co-chair; Dan Mule, the man seen as the outsider due to his eastern Kenya roots.

Citizen Digital understands the threat Mule poses as a popular candidate across board for his track record in managing the affairs of the club has made the sons of western Kenya reconsider rallying behind one of them to keep the leadership of the club ‘home’.

Amahwa and Opwora contradicted each other over the reasons the latter quit the race in the 11th hour to run the 12-time domestic club champions in a campaign inside the Den dubbed in the local Luhya dialect as lero luno eshiefu ne eshiefu (this time round, what is ours remains ours).

It is aimed at locking out the man who hails for Machakos and endeared himself among Ingwe faithful as the vibrant Embakasi Branch chairman before ascending to the IMC from ascending to the command of the team that draws its bedrock support from Luhyaland.

“If I vie alongside Amahwa and Asembo, then we will be simply be dividing our votes and so my intention is to make sure that we cast all our votes in one basket.

“I have tried to reach out to Asembo and Amahwa so as to ask them to agree and front one person in order to make the western region stronger,” Opwora told Citizen Digital on Friday.

Speaking earlier to Radio Citizen and Mulembe FM at Communication Centre in Nairobi, Amahwa strenuously disputed allegations the late withdrawal of Opwora was a ploy to ensure the club is run by a leader from the Luhya community.

The Mombasa Branch chairman also denied clandestine talks took place to convince Opwora to step down in his favour with some saying even money changed hands from the man whose financial muscle has been felt inside the Den during the run-up to the elections.

“The important thing is that I never prevailed over him to support me, he must have seen he’s in a losing battle and decided to join the winners,” Amahwa underscored.

“As much as we want to accommodate everyone, which is the way to go, we must accept that AFC has its roots in Luhya. It’s worth noting 12 clubs from Luhyaland were merged to form AFC, so the name may have a different meaning but Opwora’s decision to support me may also have come from his Luhya heart,” he added.

The front runner declared it was a two-horse race between himself and Mule, terming the former FKF deputy boss Asembo and Opwora as leaders with no following.

Mule on his part labelled the latest development a plot to ensure he is locked out of the top seat by using the tribal trump card.

“Opwora has been with Amahwa for so long and so it shows that I’m the common enemy in this race. Even the missing Ksh1.8 million that was taken from the club’s coffers was a scheme between Opwora, Amahwa and secretary general, Maurice Osundwa so they want to cover up,” he alleged.

“I’m also aware they want to reach out to Asembo to make sure they only have one candidate who will enter the ring against me,” Mule further charged.

He declared if he carries the day on Sunday, he would ensure the culprits have their day in court to ensure money is paid back in what will further ruffle feathers.

Speaking on Mule, Amahwa who has styled himself as the ‘Tsunami’ that will sweep Sunday’s elections said he would not hesitate to work with the IMC co-chair if elected.

“I tried to have him run as my deputy but he declined,” he added, confirming reports that surfaced last month that Mule was being prevailed to accept the number two position so that Ingwe would have a leader from home.

Additional reporting by Philip Muchiri