More Western Kenya MPs in plan to ditch ODM

Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba (left) with his Sirisia counterpart John Waluke during a rally at Sirisia stadium in Bungoma County yesterday. Mr Waluke officially announced his resignation as ODM Chairman of Bungoma County. [PHOTO: BENJAMIN SAKWA/STANDARD]

KAKAMEGA: Two more Western Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs have vowed to quit the party.

This comes ahead of a crucial meeting tomorrow by party leader Raila Odinga to stem the rebellion.

This is happening at a time when some ODM leaders in Kisii have also expressed their desire to form a new political party.

Yesterday one of Mr Raila’s strongest supporters, Sirisia MP John Walukhe announced his decision hours after his Emuhaya counterpart, Wilbur Ottichillo indicated that he would not defend his seat on an ODM ticket.

Mr Walukhe, was considered as ODM pillar in Bungoma, where he is the branch chairman and was one of the few leaders who stood by Raila when he fell out with Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula following the latter’s chaotic launch of his presidential bid in April.

Walukhe said: “I have supported and stood with ODM in times of turmoil, but instead I have been frustrate and undermined by some party officials who have even labelled me a mole for working for the sake of development.”

“Despite fighting for ODM, Raila Odinga has not supported my grassroots leadership even when he was the Prime Minister. He promised to nominate me in 2008, but I waited in vain.”

Mr Ottichillo said he would consult the people to determine which party to join.

“I am in CORD. I was elected on an ODM ticket and will continue being an ODM legislator until the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declares seats vacant,” he said.

He added, “Afterwards, I will come to the people of Vihiga, whom I want to serve as governor and ask for which house I should go in. Whatever house my people say I go in I will go.”

He spoke at Kigunga primary school in Sabatia Constituency during a funds drive organised by area MP Alfred Agoi.
In a bid to stop the rebellion, ODM’s Central Management Committee (CMC) will meet tomorrow to discuss among other things the issues raised by outgoing Secretary General Ababu Namwamba and Vice Chairman Paul Otuoma.

The two had led other seven MPs in citing lack of respect on how the Orange party was treating them in Western region, sparking a series of resignation from key party positions. ODM Chairman John Mbadi, however, downplayed the fallout in Western, saying Mr Ababu and Mr Otuoma were yet to submit their resignation letters.

Resignation letters

“Technically Ababu and Otuoma are still officials of the party and unless they submit their official resignation letters, we can only say they are still officials,” said Mr Mbadi.

According to Mbadi, the CMC meeting will consider setting up a new National Elections Board (NEB), review of the nominations rules and the issues of the party raised by Western region MPs.

The meeting will also look into a debate sparked by Kisii leaders on the formation of a political party.

“Both Ababu and Otuoma had requested to meet the party leader at Busia Senator Amos Wako’s home before they can meet the CMC. I am not in a position to confirm whether they have met or not,” Mbadi said.

He added: “Our agenda for the meeting is establishing the new National Elections Board, the nomination rules and other emerging issues. We are ready to listen to their grievances.”

Already CMC had proposed a five-member NEB as it prepares for the 2017 general elections. ODM is also considering the establishment of a County Elections Board and a Constituency Steering Committee in addition to the NEB to ensure that nomination certificates are given to the most popular candidates.

On the formation of a political party by Kisii leaders, Mbadi said: “It is really regrettable that in this age and era someone is talking about tribal party. A party purely formed on ethnic line don’t go far.”

But, Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka maintained that the formation of new political vehicle for the Kisii community was unstoppable. Mr Onyonka argued that Kenya had not yet come of age to form political parties that share ideologies of good governance, justice, equity and development but tribal outfits.

“We are becoming realistic and pragmatic…If the manifesto of our political vehicle will become tribal, so be it,” said Onyonka.

The Kisii community has two governors, two senators and two women representatives all elected on ODM tickets.

Onyonka said:” We have three options. We could use Ford People or KSC (Kenya Social Congress) or PDP (Peoples Democratic Party). But as for me, I would suggest that we have a completely new political vehicle with new structures.”

Political bride

Onyonka, who was elected on an ODM ticket, said they were keen to bring all the leaders to speak with one voice and marshal at least 1.5 million votes from the region.

Onyonka believes if the region votes as a block, they will tilt the election outcome, making them the most valuable ‘political bride’ for both CORD and Jubilee.

“We are willing to negotiate with either of the coalitions. We will only support where we feel our interest as a community are considered. We will determine who becomes the President of Kenya,” he said.

And in Mombasa ODM leaders accused Ababu and Otuoma of inventing excuses to justify defection from the party. Addressing separate meetings in Taita Taveta, Mombasa and Kwale, MPs, Hassan Mwanyoha, (Matuga), Mishi Mboka (Mombada Woman Rep), Thomas Mwadegu (Wundanyi), Joyce Lay ( Taita Taita Woman Rep) accused Ababu of manufacturing excuses to defect.

“Ababu was not ejected from ODM. He has the mantle as secretary general of ODM to initiate policies and he did not need anyone’s permission to perform his functions,” said Mishi adding that the Budalang’i legislator should blame himself for not making a mark in the party.

At the same time CORD rebels in Coast yesterday announced that they felt vindicated by Ababu’s rebellion.

The MPs Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi North), Zainab Chidzuga (Kwale Woman Rep), Khatib Mwashetani, (Lunga Lunga) Peter Shehe (Ganze), Shariff Athman (Lamu East), Mustafa Iddi (Kilifi South) and Kaya elders claimed more leaders will defect from ODM and announced a series of campaigns against CORD to popularise Jubilee which they now support.

Likoni MP Masoud Mwahima and his Garsen counterpart Ibrahim Sane were also expected in the meeting but later gave an apology due to some personal issues.

“We are very glad that Namwamba finally saw the light and quit the party leadership. We are asking Kenyans to support him and we also urge him to stay put. Being in ODM is just a waste of time,” Mr Mung’aro said.

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