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Otuoma under fire after sacking five councillors

By - Roselyne Obala and Renson Buluma | Published Fri, October 26th 2012 at 00:00, Updated October 25th 2012 at 23:09 GMT +3

By Roselyne Obala and Renson Buluma

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has revoked the nomination of five councillors who have decamped to Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi’s United Democratic Forum (UDF).

The sacking of the civic leaders has intensified rivalry between supporters of Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Mudavadi, ahead of the latter’s visit to Western Province this weekend.

Local Government Minister Paul Otuoma, who is Raila’s pointman in the area, made good his threat and sacked the five ODM nominated councillors affiliated to other parties just months to the polls.

Dr Otuoma, who took over the ministry recently, exercised his discretion to de-gazette the civic leaders and defended the move, saying it was in accordance to the law.

“The sacking of the five nominated councillors was within the law,” explained the minister.

Otuoma said the leaders failed to abide by ODM party rules, prompting the party to submit their names to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and recommend their sacking.

He said those dismissed were from Coast Province, Malaba, Vihiga, and Ol Kalou civic authorities.

The minister said the electoral body approved the proposal to de-gazette the councillors long before his appointment to the ministry, adding the councillors should only blame themselves for their sacking.

In Vihiga County, Mbale Municipal Council clerk Julius Otiende received a circular from the ministry de-gazetting councillor Manase Omenya.

Not malicious

Otuoma, however, claimed the decision was not malicious or targeting Mudavadi’s supporters.

“I have not de-gazetted these councillors because of their support for Mudavadi, who defected from ODM party and joined UDF, but for failing to abide by our party rules,” he said.

“When I took over the ministry, I found that ODM and IEBC had certified that the councillors be removed. After establishing that there was no anomaly in the decision, I signed for their removal,” explained Otuoma.

He added: “I only acted on what had already been passed by the party and endorsed by the IEBC. Those who are complaining that I arbitrary de-gazetted the councillors should know that impunity in this country ended long time ago.”

The minister was speaking during the launch of ODM grassroots campaigns for Busia County.

Present at the event was Labour Assistant Minister Sospeter Ojaamong, among others.