Kenya: Three CORD legislators from Coast accompanied President Uhuru Kenyatta to The Hague in a move seen as another clear sign that rebels from the region have shifted their allegiance to the Jubilee coalition.
Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro led CORD rebels Khatib Mwashetani and Zainab Chidzuga to the International Criminal Court (ICC) where President Kenyatta attended a status conference last week.
The trip by the three came as CORD debates whether or not to make good its threat and pull out the rebel MPs from key parliamentary committees to stem internal rebellion. Prior to the journey, several MPs from the Mung’aro-led axis also defied the coalition and attended President Kenyatta’s address in Parliament on Monday.
While Minority Whip in Parliament Thomas Mwadeghu says the Opposition alliance will not allow rebellion within it, Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo says no decision has been made on whether to defrock rebels.
Mr Midiwo’s language has been more moderate than Mwadeghu’s, who minced no words about the coalition’s intentions at a recent rally in Kwale.
“It is either you are with us or against us. It is their (rebels’) political right to associate with whoever they want to, but the party has its disciplinary mechanisms that it will institute at an opportune time,” said Mwadeghu.
CORD has been mulling over the idea to throw out the rebels from the committees since June.
Mwadeghu, who is the Wundanyi MP, is himself a beneficiary of such a move after the party picked him to replace Mung’aro as the Minority Whip in July. Mung’aro was accused of shifting his loyalty to Jubilee. He is also opposed to the party’s ‘Okoa Kenya’ referendum campaigns.
“The decision has been agreed upon and once Parliament comes from recess, the coalition will take disciplinary action against them and have loyal ones appointed,” said an MP from the Coast region who requested anonymity. He said there were “genuine concerns” that the rebels were undermining CORD’s programmes and that the coalition feels it would be right to part ways with them at the earliest opportunity possible.
CORD MPs opposed to the call for a national referendum maintain that they were still loyal to their coalition despite pressure that they should resign and seek fresh mandate if support positions taken by the Jubilee Alliance on key issues.
Political commentators in the region say the move by the rebels to accompany the President to the Hague could be seen as aimed at cementing their relationship with the Jubilee coalition.
Munga’ro and his team skipped several rallies presided over by CORD leader Raila Odinga in Tana River and Kilifi counties a fortnight ago, ostensibly because they are opposed to the referendum calls. Chidzuga, the Kwale Women Representative who was still in the Netherlands on Friday morning, confirmed that she travelled to The Hague with Mung’aro and Mwashetani to give President Kenyatta moral support in a show of solidarity. “We went to The Hague with Mung’aro and Mwashetani among other leaders in solidarity with the President. He is not a party president but the President of all Kenyans,” Chidzuga said on telephone from The Hague.
Chidzuga explained they also wanted to be part of the team of leaders who went to protest against the summoning of Uhuru by the ICC in disregard to a resolution of the African Union.
The Kwale Women Representative said some CORD MPs from the Coast were also planning to accompany Deputy President William Ruto to provide him with “moral backing” next time he appears before the court. When contacted for comment, Mung’aro said: “I am still in Europe. I will call you once I am back.”
Ever since he was ousted as whip, Munga’ro has been the face of revolt against CORD in the Coast region.
Some MPs were opposed to having Mwadeghu replace him last July as whip. ODM’s efforts to remove him from the House Business Committee in favour of Mwadeghu is still pending given it has to go through a vote in Parliament.
“I serve in the House Business committee and when Thomas Mwadeghu came, we turned him back because even though the party has written to Parliament informing it of its decision to replace Mung’aro, such a decision will have to be subjected to a vote,” said, Mwashetani, the Lunga Lunga legislator.