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Citizen Weekly

Friday, 28 November 2014

MIXED REACTIONS TO RAILA NEW PARTY LINE-UP



Friction within Orange Democratic Movement ( ODM) could escalate after it became clear yesterday that the top party leadership does not contemplate further discussion on the contentious list of officials picked a fortnight ago. Speaking during the burial of Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang’ in Waondo village, CORD leader Raila Odinga asserted that he had already trusted the leadership of ODM with youthful leaders. Raila expressed confidence in the team led by Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba (Secretary General) and John Mbadi (Suba), saying it is made up of youthful leaders who would revamp the party ahead of the 2017 General Election. “There have been claims that I prefer Old Guards for the leadership of the party; that is why I brought the Young Turks to spearhead the agenda of the party,” Raila said. “It is a strong team that will strengthen the party, are they able or not?” Raila posed to thousands of mourners who shouted in the affirmative. Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who also attended the burial urged ODM members to accept the leadership change and hailed Raila for making what he termed a “bold move to restore sanity in the party”. “I want to ask other members who were not elected into the leadership positions that all of us cannot be secretary general or party leader at the same time,” said Kalonzo.
Some Raila loyalists had opposed the proposed leadership line up, accusing Raila of handpicking party officials instead of allowing delegates to elect them through popular initiative. Among ODM members opposed to the party officials’ include Siaya Senator James Orengo, MPs Paul Otuoma (Funyula) and Junnet Mohammed (Suna East). All of them, although present at the event, did not talk about the party issues. Outgoing ODM Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o indicated he was ready to hand over to the new crop of leaders. “The time has come to pass the button, but I will do that to a united party,” he said. The CORD leaders maintained that the coalition must remain united in honour of the late senator who they eulogised as the most loyal member of the coalition. “We agreed with Kajwang’ at the meeting of Luo leaders at Sikri that those who want to join Jubilee alliance should quit and that is why I said they are either with us or with them,” Raila stated, adding that the late senator stood for the unity of the Luo Community. “Those who want to split Luos will not be tolerated for the honour of Kajwang,” he insisted. Mr Wetang’ula also asked the CORD members to remain united: “Do not be enticed with peremende ndogo ndogo (small goodies) from the Jubilee Government. Kajwang’ stood for loyalty and other members should follow suit.” The CORD minority whip in the National Assembly Thomas Mwadeghu said the party was reaching out to rebels but warned that the coalition would not relent in cracking the whip on the perceived “Jubilee moles”.
“We have made a position as a coalition that we will discipline all errant MPs by removing them from key Parliamentary Committees. Anybody who fails to support the causes and respect the ideologies of the coalition will have to ship out,” he said. “ ODM is committed to win the next General Election, but that cannot materialise when there are divisions in the party,” warned Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi. The proposed new ODM leaders vowed to bring change to the Orange party. “Those who had imagined that our house has been weakened will be in for a rude shock. The new leadership is powerful. We are rebranding and reloading,” said Mr Namwamba. “I want to tell the new leaders who will fail to build the party that I will be the first one to discipline them,” warned Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, who was also appointed the deputy party leader. Although President Uhuru Kenyatta was in the event’s programme, he did not attend the function. Jubilee leaders who attended the burial were Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro, Senators John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto. But CORD leaders asked Kenyatta’s administration to address the spiraling insecurity, and challenged him to resign if his government cannot protect its citizens from terror attacks.
Despite the hostile reception some of the Jubilee leaders received from the mourners at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on Wednesday, there was calm during the senators burial and they were allowed to give speeches. Meanwhile, the funeral service was not without its highs and lows, as leaders demanded to know what killed Kajwang’ stressing that it was not a normal death. Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Senators James Orengo (Siaya), Johnsone Muthama (Machako) and Elizabeth Ongoro (Nominated) expressed their dissatisfaction with the postmortem report, saying more analysis need to be done. “We have received death threats in the past. Kajwang was one of us , it was only not known how it was going to take place. What we know is that Kajwang died in line of duty, he said a lot during the aborted ODM party elections at Kasarani, I am not afraid of going to jail, I do not believe in many things, including the cause of death of Kajwang,” said Senator Ongoro. Senator Muthama added, “ We must know if indeed Kajwang’ death is normal or aided by a human being.” Meanwhile, most leaders allied to the Jubilee coalition skipped the burial. Though the leaders united in grief following his death, only Defence Cabinet Secretary (CS) Rachiel Omamo and Senator Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) turned up to witness Kajwang’s final journey on earth.