CORD picks James Orengo to replace Dalmas Otieno at headquarters
The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy ( CORD) has made some changes to the membership of a top organ that governs the affairs of the Opposition coalition ahead of the 2017 General Election.
Senators Johnstone Muthama (Wiper) and James Orengo (ODM), fierce Opposition loyalists and vocal opponents of the Jubilee government, have been named as co-chairs of the CORD executive coalition management committee.
The 12-member committee has among its members the three CORD principals Raila Odinga (ODM), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya), and the decision to have the two firebrands take up pole positions signals the
Opposition wants them to play a frontline role in keeping the Government in check.
In the changes, Orengo replaces Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno as co-chairman of the committee. Dalmas has been disinterested in the affairs of the coalition and his party, ODM, has even removed him from parliamentary committees for alleged links to the ruling coalition.
President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Dalmas as Kenya’s special envoy to the ongoing South Sudan peace talks at a time when the ODM MP had stepped up his criticism of Raila.
Muthama, a vocal critic of the Government, also takes up the position of co-chairman from Kitui Senator David Musila, who steps down but remains a member of the team. Both are Wiper members. The party’s other slot has been vacant since the death of Mutula Kilonzo. Other members of the committee are MPs Eseli Simiyu and Chris Wamalwa representing Ford Kenya, and John Mbadi (ODM).
Musila Thursday downplayed the changes, saying he has been serving as a co-chair with Dalmas since the committee’s inception in the run-up to the last General Election.
He told The Standard that he had not been fired, but had rather stepped down for Muthama.
“After our party retreat, we agreed that I would continue being the Wiper chairman and so I decided to step down from the management of the coalition affairs. I willingly stepped down for Senator Muthama but I remain a CORD member,” said Musila.
And Dalmas said, “I was de-whipped from all committees. I am not a co-chair of the coalition’s management committee.”
Sources in ODM said Dalmas had long stepped down from the management of coalition matters following his perceived strained political relationship with Raila.
An insider who spoke to The Standard in confidence claimed Dalmas was largely seen as a “mole” who had been working against the coalition’s aspirations.
While the Rongo MP had shown his desire to mend fences with ODM ahead of 2017, the appointment of Orengo is the clearest indication yet that the party is not banking on him for the future. Several aspirants in Rongo have since claimed Dalmas has been a big beneficiary of ODM and ought to help the party and coalition get to the ‘Promised Land’.
The Coalition Executive Board has each of the three party’s leaders, four members from ODM, Wiper and Ford Kenya, and two members representing all other parties.
If CORD had formed the Government, the coalition’s governing council would have comprised the summit, members of the executive board, Cabinet secretaries, Members of Parliament, executive committees of parties and governors.
Orengo and Muthama have long been the face of the Opposition in the Senate, and have recently been joined by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale (UDF). Simiyu, who is also the Ford Kenya secretary general, however said there had been no change in the management structure except Musila’s position, which has since been taken by Muthama.
Simiyu, who is also the Tongaren MP and a member of the committee, said the composition largely remained the same except for the position of the late Mutula Kilonzo and Dalmas, who quit his position as co-chairman.