A meeting convened by Migori ODM officials to ‘vet’ prospective aspirants for 2017 elections ended in disarray.
This is after youths stormed the venue and ejected the officials and declared the meeting illegal.
The fracas and bitter altercations that degenerated into fisticuffs on Saturday evening followed complaints that the party leadership was holding unofficial meetings with aspirants seeking, and allegedly soliciting money from them under the guise of vetting.
The officials led by the chairman, Phillip Makabong’o, and the secretary, Josy Olala, were held hostage at the hotel where they were meeting some of the aspirants.
Some 12 aspirants for various seats, including the Senate had appeared before the panel before chaos broke out.
The incident was an indication that jostling for the party tickets had started in earnest, with various aspirants trying hard to align themselves to the branch leadership in the belief that they will be favoured during nominations.
Party leader Raila Odinga, national chairman John Mbadi, and the director of political affairs, Opiyo Wandayi, have on many occasions said the nominations will be free and fair.
They said party branches will have little say on who gets the party ticket.
Yesterday, The Standard learnt that the meetings with the aspirants started on August 15, when officials held a meeting in Sirare which aspirants vying for the woman representative position were to attend for the alleged vetting.
Only one, Pamela Odhiambo, honoured the vetting and was allegedly endorsed by the panel.
And on the Saturday meeting, some party loyalists got wind of the meeting and stormed the venue, catching the officials and their guests unawares. They roughed them up and ordered them to end the meeting.
One of the people who stormed the venue, Philip Omondi, alleged that they were directed from Orange House, the ODM headquarters, to stop the meeting at the hotel.
“We received a phone call informing us about the unofficial meeting at the hotel, so we went there and made sure it came to an end. Anyone who feels we were not sent by the Orange House can ask them. They knew nothing about the vetting and asked us to stop it,” he said.
He, however, declined to name the Orange House officials who called him.
Mr Makabong’o confirmed the party organs were involved in the meeting, adding that he was mandated at his level to hold meetings with aspirants. He, however, clarified that it was not a vetting exercise.
He added that he did not need any official communication from the head office to meet with aspirants at the county level.
“We wanted to know the aspirants seeking to be elected on an ODM ticket for the woman rep, senator and gubernatorial positions. It is not vetting,” said Makabong’o.
He said branches will have to vet all the aspirants before the party holds its nominations, saying those with criminal records will be barred.