The split in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) could develop into an irreversible crack if six legislators who are close allies of party leader Raila Odinga live up to their threat to expel Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba and those in his camp from party and parliamentary positions.
The pro-Raila MPs vowed to crack the whip on errant members in ODM who are not willing to toe the party line, as pressure continued to mount on the party leadership to hold elections soon and accept those with differing opinions.
If Ababu is expelled from ODM, or removed from chairing the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, it could cause a devastating fallout in the Orange party as many key politicians from his western Kenya turf have pledged to stand by him to the end.
Yesterday, speaking in front of Raila at Likuyani, Kakamega county, local Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said ODM should handle the Namwamba issue with a lot of caution.
But the six legislators sent a strong warning to errant members to respect the ODM leadership and adhere to collective decisions or else they risk being kicked out of the party so as to avert unnecessary wrangles. Led by senators James Orengo (Siaya), Oburu Oginga (Nominated), MPs Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda), John Mbadi (Suba), Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem) and James Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), they warned all members to demonstrate discipline and support for the party.
Orengo told the “so-called” disgruntled members to respect the party leadership and the rules or else ODM will crack down on them.
Midiwo said the party must be respected by all members and warned “those who think otherwise to just quit”.
Mbadi, in a statement directed at Namwamba, dared those who think they are popular and are not contented
with the party to quit, relinquish their positions and seek fresh mandate from the electorate.
He stated it was not logical for some people to pretend to be loyal to the party, yet they keep criticising the leadership.
“It is high time we started vetting people joining ODM. You cannot be in a party where you continuously attack and oppose its leadership,” he said, adding, “our party now stands for a referendum and if you are not supporting it you do not belong to ODM,” Mbadi said.
Gumbo denied claims that Raila had already created a list of interim officials for ODM ahead of elections. Wandayi said the party branches need to be given power to discipline errant members and those who are not reading from the same script with the party leadership.
The MPs were speaking during the installation of Rarieda ODM chairman Sydonius Onyango Omollo at Kawuondi village, Siaya county. This came as Kisumu East Member of Parliament Ahmed Shabir called on ODM to immediately hold its much awaited national elections to shed off the old guard in order to salvage its already dented image.
Shabir said the old guard in the party like Kisumu senator Anyang’ Nyong’o and his counterparts James Orengo (Siaya), Otieno Kajwang (Homa Bay), Nominated MP Oburu Oginga and ex-Makadara MP Reuben Ndolo were spent forces who must be shown the door.
Separately, in the Namwamba camp, Kakamega Women’s Representative Rachel Ameso warned ODM officials to tread carefully on the Budalang’i MP’s issue, saying kicking him out would make the party unpopular in the Western region.
Such sentiments were also expressed by Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa who said the party should work as a team with the main focus being 2017 elections.
ODM executive director Magerer Langat has blamed woes bedeviling the party on the old guard, whom he accused of not allowing change to take place in the troubled orange outfit.
Speaking on phone, Langat said there was a clique of party members surrounding Raila who are misleading him. The director indicated that ‘Young Turks’ in the party started getting opposition when they mooted the idea of ‘ODM Reloaded’ where Namwamba was in the forefront.