Luo MPs Desert Raila

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Luo leaders who were interested in vying for key positions in the party have vowed to desert their party leader Raila Odinga accusing him of forcing them out the race for various party positions.

They claimed that they had not been allowed toexercise their democratic right despite being qualified to vie for the various positions they had expressed interest in.

But in swift rejoinder, Raila’s spokesman Dennis Onyango dismissed those threatening to desert the party saying the party will decide what to do with them.

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“This is a new development that the party will have to deal with. In any case, no one is forced to attend meetings,” said Onyango.

Last week, Raila is understood to have told his close confidants that he will not favour anyone in the forthcoming party elections.

Raila has been under pressure from Luo Nyanza MPs who want him to preserve the position of secretary general and that of vice chairman.

But several aides to the former PM told the Star that Raila has made it clear he will go by the choices party members will make.

The leaders, some who withdrew their candidature yesterday, accused Raila of backing nominated Senator Agnes Zani instead of allowing party members to chose their leaders in a free, fair and democratic process.

“We are tired. Raila has told us not to go for any key position and if we insist on taking him on I can assure you we will be viewed as rebels. So we have decided to allow him run his party the way he wants,” said another MP who was interested in a national position and who did not want to be named.

Last evening some of the leaders including Dalmas Otieno announced their withdrawal from the race for the various positions. Suba MP John Mbadi also announced his withdrawal from the race to succeed Anyang’ Nyong’o as secretary general and it was understood that Ken Obura and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero may also have withdrawn from the race, although could not independently verify this.

In his statement Dalmas seemed to blame Raila for his decision to withdraw. “In compliance with the wishes of the party leadership, this is to confirm that I will not contest for any position in the next ODM elections,” Otieno said.

It is understood that Dalmas was upset by Raila’s decision to back Zani and his request that Luo MPs not to go for senior positions.

Dalmas who was to contest for the vice-chairman’s position however added that he will continue to co-chair the CORD management board alongside Kitui Senator David Musila.

Kidero was also reported to have met Raila the previous day and informed him of his decision to quit the race for vice chairmanship.

Suba MP John Mbadi said although he withdrew from the race voluntarily he was not aware of Raila’s directive that Luo leaders avoid key party positions.

“My loyalty remains with Raila and since this was not a matter of life and death I will remain in ODM and will accept any party position the members will give me,” Mbadi told the Star yesterday. Siaya Senator James Orengo has also quit the contest despite expressing interest before.

Zani comes from the Coastal region and Raila is said to see this as one of the ways of ensuring that the party is seen to take a national outlook.

– The Star

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