TWO weeks after the fiasco of the ODM elections, party leader Raila Odinga flew to the United States on Sunday night for a one month visit.
Before his departure, Raila handed over the party to outgoing Secretary General Prof Anyang Nyong’o who will now be ‘acting Party Leader’ for the month.
Consequently Raila will be completely out of Kenyan politics for at least one month.
He is attending a political programme at Boston University for former African political leaders where it is conditional that they do not get actively involved in politics while studying.
Yesterday Raila told the Star that Boston University invited him to the USA to attend a one month programme for former African leaders. As a result he will not participate in local politics for that period.
“This a fantastic opportunity to meet world leaders, tour the US and strengthen relations between Kenya and the US,” Raila said on the phone.
The African President-in-Residence Program is a Boston University-based residency program for former democratically elected African heads of state.
It allows former leaders a residency of up to two years. During their tenure, the former heads of state speaks about African political and economic development at venues throughout the United States.
“ODM is an institution and will continue to function. There is no course for alarm,” said acting Party Leader and former Secretary General Nyong’o.
Raila held meetings with both the Ababu Namwamba faction and the Senator Agnes Zani faction before he flew out to the US.
The rivalry between the two groups disrupted the party elections at Kasarani on February 28 causing their suspension and postponement.
The interim ODM committee is investigating what happened in Kasarani and will plan for the next elections as well.
But yesterday further details emerged of how shambolic the elections were.
The divisions and disorganization at Orange House before the elections are still persisting.
Some top officials actively campaigned for candidates and this contributed to the chaos that erupted in Kasarani, according to multiple sources.
The interference included names of candidates being deleted from ballot papers, some candidates being locked out by other means, and the candidates list being changed at the last minute.
Some candidates found that the post they were standing for were different to the posts they had campaigned for.
Additional unauthorized badges were issued that allowed extra delegates allied to specific politicians to enter the arena.
Orange House neither procured nor paid for the ballot boxes and the ballot papers used. It remains a mystery who supplied and paid for the ballot papers.
Companies linked to top party managers or some candidates may have done the job, with the collaboration of senior officials at Orange House, according to some sources.
Staff at Orange House did not hold one single meeting to plan for the Kasarani elections. Mistrust and partisan politics ensured that each official worked in secrecy, jeopardising delivery of services.
The situation became worse when members of the National Elections Board turned into commissioners for their regions with powers to decide who remained on the delegates list, a move that was approved by ODM Executive Director Magerer Langat.
In Kasarani, a member of the national elections board called a politician to ask the coastal delegates to return from outside the hall because “we are going to lose votes.” The elections board was supposed to be independent.
One NEB official protested that the young people in blue NEB teeshirts were actually aides, drivers and youths of one politician.
One ODM youth leader complained that one of his members was distributing extra badges to to increase the numbers of one faction in the hall.
Kipkorir Arap Menjo, a strong ODM voice in Rift Valley, declined to show up in Kasarani after the list was altered so that he stood for vice chair of Uasin Gishu county instead for chairman.
The day before, Tabitha Seii had her name removed but got on the ballot list after demanding an audience with Raila.
Ogla Karani’s name never appeared on the final ballot as a candidate for secretary for policy and economic affairs despite returning the forms and paying all the monies required.
She realised her name was missing about two weeks and reported to Orange House where she was assured that it was an error that would be corrected.