CORD REBELS TO REGISTER NEW ‘ODM-FRESH’ PARTY
The MPs, mostly from the Cord stronghold of the Coast region, are among leaders spearheading the new outfit that could see a group of young leaders in the Opposition ditch coalition leader Raila Odinga.
The name ODM Fresh was picked after the name Okoa Kenya Patriotic Party, which the rebel MPs were eying, was taken and registered by Raila’s allies.
The leaders, who include Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro, Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga) and Wajir women’s representative Fatma Ibrahim, met on Friday evening at a Mombasa hotel, in a gathering that also included Mining Cabinet secretary Najib Balala of Jubilee.
“Safari ya kesho hupangwa leo (tomorrow’s journey is planned today). We want a party of young, strong and fresh leaders,” said Mwashetani.
Fatma noted that the the new party will spread out to the North Eastern region, which also overwhelmingly voted for Raila in 2013.
“ODM Fresh is a national movement,” she declared.
The meeting came after a similar surprise retreat took place last week at another Mombasa hotel involving rebellious Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua (Wiper), Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, troubled ODM executive director Magerer Lang’at and Mung’aro.
The leadership crisis rocking ODM continued to deepen yesterday, with a section of MPs accusing Raila of aloofness in offering solutions to the troubles and issues that now besiege the party.
The MPs complained that Raila spends too much of his time addressing coalition matters as opposed to sparing quality time to put out the political inferno consuming his party.
Since the launch of the Okoa Kenya referendum push, Raila has spent most of his time launching signature collection initiatives across the country and holding consultative meetings with various players in Cord. He has also travelled to the US and Mozambique.
This is despite the growing rebellion within his ODM party sparked off by antagonistic groups fighting for leadership and one of whose culminations saw Nairobi MCAs assault CEO Lang’at at a meeting chaired by Raila.
“I urge the party leader to spend much more time in ODM than in dealing with Cord affairs, unless he wants the coalition transformed into a political party,” South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya told the Star on the phone.
He urged the former Prime Minister to “retreat from his comfort zone” and “get in touch with reality” to rescue the country’s largest single political entity from disintegration.
“We attend functions that are more Cord affairs than ODM. We want him to call meetings that address the root causes of what is ailing the party at the moment,” he added.
Kitutu Chache MP Richard Onyonka said it is high time Raila took charge of the situation, “or else ODM is doomed”.
“We want the unfinished business of party elections put behind us and this tendency of some people stifling internal democracy addressed like yesterday.
“The party is getting finished because some people don’t want to listen to divergent opinions.”
Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura also fired a warning salvo at “powerful politicians selfishly dictating to Raila on party matters”.
“A small clique of individuals who fear internal elections are hell-bent on scuttling party polls as long as they are the ones in charge,” he told the Star in an interview.
“Anybody who opposes them is branded a mole. That is dangerous for the party. Only proper elections will salvage the party,” he said.
Raila allies are said to be behind the scouting of OKPP as his 2017 political vehicle, following endless leadership squabbles in ODM.
ODM Fresh was the brand of youthful lawmakers who were agitating for change of leadership at Orange House during the aborted February 28 party elections.
The team, which included Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, MP Namwamba, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok and Eldas MP Aden Keynan, was tipped to win the elections after mounting a Cord strongholds campaign by helicopter that shook ODM.
However, it remains unclear whether the same group is behind the push to register ODM Fresh. Multiple sources told the Star off-the-record that senior ODM figures from the Coast region have okayed the move to buttress their bargaining power.
Yesterday Raila dismissed claims he is reaching out to a clique of legislators perceived to be party rebels as well as suspended CEO Lang’at.
Through his spokesman Dennis Onyango, Raila said he has not scheduled any meeting with the leaders who met last week.
“The ODM leader has not scheduled any meeting with the party’s executive director Magerer Lang’at and MPs Ababu Namwamba and Gideon Mung’aro as reported,” the statement read in part.
Namwamba has insisted that he is in ODM to stay, while Mung’aro, who is leading a faction of Coast ODM rebels, says he wants to solidify unity among Coast leaders and residents.