After Luo Nyanza MPs quit ODM elections race en-masse, details are now emerging on what has been described as Raila Odinga’s preferred line-up in the party elections that will be held on February 28 and March 1.

Some of the Luo Nyanza MPs have publicly complained that the former Prime Minister and the defacto party leader coerced them out of the race in order to clear the way for certain candidates.Raila has however vehemently denied that he was favouring certain candidates.

Despite the denials, insiders have told the Star that Raila is interested in ensuring those who take ODM leadership present a national and gender balanced face as he prepares for his fourth bid for presidency come 2017.

It is for this reason that the former MP has been uncomfortable with most of the senior party positions going to Luo Nyanza MPs as that will marginalize the party.

According to insiders, the position of ODM party leader will automatically be retained by Raila. His deputy will be Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho in order to retain the coastal region in the party.

The preferred candidate for the party chairman is Funyula MP Paul Otuoma ostensibly to boost ODM in Western region. Other candidates eying for the position are Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok, South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya and his Tigania East counterpart Mpuri Aburi.

Those in the know have said Raila prefers his long time ally and Homabay Senator Otieno Kajwang to take the position of party vice chairman.

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and nominated senator Janet Ong’era who were also eying the position pulled out of the race last Thursday.

“I have my reason for withdrawing. You should not read a lot into it as I’m still loyal to the party and will fully support it,” said Kidero while announcing his exit from the race.

Onge’ra on her part said she pulled out in the interests of the party and consensus building. Nominated Senator Agnes Zani is touted to be Raila’s choice for the position of the Secretary General.

This is the position the Luo Nyanza MPs were initially fighting to retain arguing that present holder, Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o should be replaced by someone from their region.

Other serious candidates who were eying for the post include Elizabeth Ongoro, Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, Ken Obura and John Mbadi. Obura and Mbadi have since pulled out of the race though Ababu has insisted he will fight to the end despite mounting pressure from some quarters for him to also quit.

“It will be cowardly for me to step down. I have been away from the country and I’m coming and will launch my campaigns which will take the country like a tsunami,” Namwamba told the Star.

He added: “ODM is a party that believes in democracy and should practice the same. In Ababu, they have dialed a wrong number and I am in the race to the end and it is the delegates who will decide.”

“ODM is a national party and any member whether from the Luo or Ogiek community should contest so that we show the World that we believe in democracy,” added the MP.

Raila is said to be leaning towards Zani as one way of strengthening ODM in the coastal region and also boosting it in the eyes of women. Ababu comes from Busia County.

Before her nomination to Senate, Zani was a human rights and gender activist. She has previously taught at the University of Nairobi in the sociology department.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wadayi (Siaya County) is touted to be the preferred party’s deputy secretary general while Balambala MP Abdikadir Aden (Garissa County) is poised to take the position of Organizing Secretary.

Raila is said to prefer Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire (Nyamira County) as the party’s treasurer while Kakamega Woman Representative Rachael Ameso is the preferred Deputy Treasurer.

On Thursday, Raila declared that ODM was not only for the Luo. Though he has publicly stated that he will not influence the outcome of the party elections, those in the know have said that he has been doing a lot behind the scenes to ensure his preferred list carries the day in order to give the party a national look.

Over the weekend, several leaders who attended the 20th anniversary of the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga at his Kang’o home in Bondo dared the Luo Nyanza MPs to form a new party if they were not comfortable with ODM doctrines.

They said ODM is a national party adding that nobody will listen to the young turks calls to retain certain positions in Luo Nyanza.

Nominated MP Oburu Oginga who is Raila’s elder brother did not mince words when he told off the young MPs that age was not a qualification for leadership.

“The young men should leave Raila alone. They must know that being youthful does not guarantee one a position. We must know your track records,” Oburu said. He told off those accusing him of misleading Raila saying he cannot misinform his own brother. He launched a scathing attack against Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno whom he said was misadvising the young MPs.

“We all know that Dalmas has never supported us. He is on record and history has it that he always opposes us and at one time remarked that a Luo will never become a President,” said an agitated Oburu.

He dared Dalmas to rejoin the ODM race for Secretary General position saying Raila did not force him out of the race as he claims.

– the-star.co.ke

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