Uhuru’s Role in Formation of Raila’s ODM Party


In politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies, only interests. This old adage, in the Kenyan context, would best describe the relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Kenyans have known Kenyatta and Odinga to be fierce rivals with a conflict that dates back to their fathers, but unknown to many, the two have worked as a team before.

They have not only worked together but Kenyatta, alongside the current Tourism CS Najib Balala, came up with the concept and name of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

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During the 2005 referendum, Kenyatta and Odinga united to oppose the proposed Constitution.

The duo marshalled support across the country, urging Kenyans to vote for NO in the referendum (Orange – No and Banana- Yes).

The ‘NO’ side emerged victorious, defeating former President Mwai Kibaki who had been campaigning for the new Constitution.

Odinga’s stand in the referendum compelled Kibaki to kick him out of the Cabinet alongside members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) which had been part of the NARC coalition that had won the 2002 election.

It’s this revolution that gave birth to the Orange Party during a rally at Moi Stadium in Kisumu on September 25, 2005.

Balala first broached the name and was quickly supported by the current Head of State.

“Let’s call it Orange Democratic Movement. A movement of ideas and good governance,” Balala told other Opposition leaders at the time.

Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o had proposed Orange Democratic Front (ODF) but other members opposed it and settled on Balala’s and Kenyatta’s ODM stating that it sounded more Kenyan.

All the leaders who had come together agreed, stating that they needed to remain united if they were to defeat Kibaki in the 2007 Elections.

In 2006, Kenyatta, being the chairman, led KANU into a deal with Odinga’s (Liberal Democratic Party) to form ODM-Kenya.

Kenyatta was supported by other members of KANU, the current Deputy President William Ruto, who was KANU’s Secretary-General and Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery who was at the time Kajiado Central MP.

As Uhuru led the coalition with Odinga, the then powerful Cabinet Minister Nicolas Biwot attempted to oust him as KANU chairman as they were against his unity with Odinga.

“As we sit here, there are some people sitting in the office of the Attorney-General asking to be registered as KANU officials. This Government is in the middle of this and unless they respect the rule of law, we will take our own course,” Kenyatta said as they met in Kasarani with other Opposition politicians.

However, in 2007, Kenyatta declined to dissolve KANU to merge with ODM Kenya and instead moved away from the alliance, eventually supporting Kibaki’s re-election.

In August 2007, Odinga, Ruto, Mudavadi, Balala and Ngilu were left with no party after Kalonzo took over ODM-Kenya compelling them to form ODM.

The ODM faction has continued to date while ODM-Kenya rebranded to what is now Wiper Democratic Movement.


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