ODM ON THE BRINK AS ‘REBELS’ DEFY THREATS

Kidero-OnyonkaOrange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party Leader Raila Odinga’s close allies fought back suggestions that he should step down as a faction pressing for new leadership continued with its offensive.

Yesterday, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero was hosted in Kitutu Chache South Constituency by area MP Richard Onyonka who insisted Raila must allow ‘young turks’ to take over the party’s leadership.

“We have failed to capture the presidency twice and we have to rethink our strategy. What is wrong with Kidero contesting for presidency?” Onyonka posed.

However, Siaya Senator James Orengo and MPs Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) and Oburu Oginga (nominated) countered those criticising Raila, saying they owed their positions to his political charisma.

The three ODM MPs maintained that the former premier was still the party’s best choice to contest the presidency in the next elections, a declaration that will stir up the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) where co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula insist no one has an automatic ticket.

“ODM continues to be a strong national party with support from every part of the country and Raila is still the strongest candidate we have,” said Orengo during a fundraiser in Rarieda.

WIDENING RIFT

The exchanges will widen the rift between warring factions in ODM, which has been rocked by internal wrangling since party polls ended in chaos in February.

The feuding escalated with the violent attack on Executive Director Magerer Lang’at and the subsequent attempt to dislodge him on accusations that he is a Jubilee ‘mole’.

Lang’at on Thursday met Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro, who is leading a wing of rebel ODM Coast MPs, Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, who believes he was poised to secure the secretary general’s post before elections were bungled by the ‘Men in Black’, and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, who is uneasy with developments in the Wiper party.

Yesterday, Onyonka, who began the crusade for Kidero to take over from Raila, vowed they would continue with their quest to have new blood in the party leadership.

He urged the ODM leadership to believe in young leaders and asked Raila to understand that the time for young turks to take over party leadership had come. He said Kidero means well for the country and they would in future consider him for a bigger leadership role.

NEW BLOOD

Borabu MP Ben Momanyi said there was need for new blood in the region’s politics. “Kidero is at liberty to go round the country and support development. We should all stop spreading propaganda and focus on serving our constituents,” he said.

The leaders said the ugly incidents experienced in ODM in recent weeks was a clear indication that the party needs an energised group of leaders to take it to the next level of competitive politics

Kidero, the chief guest during the event, defended his many fund drives across the country, arguing it was part of a strategy to unite Kenyans.

“Those against funds drives should keep their money. All governors from the lake region should unite to form one strong economic bloc. We should set an example for other counties by embracing peace and development,” Kidero added.

In Rarieda, Gumbo said: “It’s sad that those who claim Raila is old are the same ones who would never have been elected in their constituencies if it were not for Raila. These are the same people blaming the party.”

Gumbo said the party would hold a clean-up starting with the secretariat to ensure only loyal members are in leadership.

Oburu reminded rebel ODM leaders that as much as the future was important they should keep the past in mind.

“The struggle for multi-party was long, tedious and serious. Manu lives were lost, so it is important never to forget the struggle that ensured we have freedom, devolution, a new Constitution and those who fought in the struggle,” he said.

In Kisii, Deputy Governor Joash Maangi said: “There is nothing wrong with Kidero contesting for the presidency when that time comes.”

Former MP Martin Ogindo said Nyanza region was tired of being in the Opposition. “We have pushed way too far, it is time to rethink the region’s political future,” he noted.

standardmedia.co.ke

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