Anger over Raila hand in ODM poll

Kenya: Vocal ODM MPs have boldly told party leader Raila Odinga not to endorse candidates for next month’s elections.

The leaders told Raila to let aspirants interested in various positions campaign for the seats without influence. They further told aspirants to sell their ideas without invoking Raila’s name while campaigning. Their statement came after it emerged that some candidates were asked to step aside for regional balance.

Nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro, who is going for the secretary general position, told Raila to keep off the elections and let every candidate sell their ideologies to delegates. Ms Ongoro accused some candidates of clinging on Raila’s ‘coat’ for favours and endorsements, warning that this was not going to happen in the February elections.

“Last time, those who were endorsed failed us and I have vowed never to cry again,” said Ongoro. Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati announced that he would vie against Raila for the party leader’s post. Internal democracy “I want to be the party leader of ODM. Those thinking that the position is a preserve of the former premier are mistaken.

I have the support and I know I will trounce him in elections,” said Arati in Nairobi. The outspoken MP also hinted that perceived lack of internal democracy might have led to the edging out of former party heavy weights namely Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto and Najib Balala, among others.

MPs Ababu Namwamba (Budalangi), Ken Obura (Kisumu Central) and Ongoro are seeking the secretary general’s post currently held by Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o.  Funyula MP Paul Otuoma is seeking to be vice chairman. MPs Omondi Anyanga (Nyatike) and John Mbadi (Suba) want the treasurer’s position, while Junet Mohammed (Suna East) wants to be the organising secretary.

Mr Otuoma echoed Ongoro’s sentiments and said members should be allowed to fight it out at the ballot. Otuoma said it was up to the delegates to decide who to vote for and for which position. He had earlier dared the Young Turks to compete against the old guards and not wait to be given leadership on a silver plate.

Regional balance Otuoma said ODM is a party of ideologies and, therefore, candidates should bring their manifestoes to the table. This, however, did not go down well with some MPs led by nominated MP Oburu Oginga, who took a swipe at Obura, whom he asked to relinquish his ambitions for regional balance.

Oburu hit out at Obura, saying he lacked experience to steer the party and that even experienced MPs like him are not contesting because of regional balance. He said if Raila is the party leader, then other seats should go to other regions to ensure the party has a national look, adding that regions like Coast voted overwhelmingly for CORD and should also be considered.

“Let us be hospitable to other regions to enable us court them easily in future,” said Oburu. Nyando MP Fred Outa said ODM is a movement for the entire country, not a preserve of Nyanza. “We must include people from other regions in our line-up because they voted overwhelmingly for us,” said Outa.

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