|CORD leader Raila Odinga leaves St. Peters ACK Church in Bondo on Thursday after Christmas service. (Photo:Titus Munala/Standard)|
ODM leader Raila Odinga held a secret meeting with a section of Luo Nyanza leaders to stem dissent generated by the direct nomination of Moses Kajwang’ to vie for the Homa Bay senatorial seat.
The Friday night meeting at a Kisumu hotel, was attended by loyal MPs from Homa Bay County and members of county assemblies (MCAs) from the region. Insiders say the MPs expressed fear that the party may face a backlash in the by-election. Among those in attendance were MPs John Mbadi (Suba), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay Woman Representative), Opondo Kaluma (Homa Bay Town) and Oyugi Magwanga (Kasipul Kabondo) and 10 MCAs.
Also at the closed door meeting that started at 7.30pm and proceeded until late in the night were Raila allies from the region, including MPs Fred Outa (Nyando), Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Oburu Oginga (nominated), Aduma Owuor (Nyakach) and Onyango Koyoo (Muhoroni). Moses Kajwang’, his brother TJ Kajwang’ (Ruaraka) and ODM Homa Bay branch leadership faction led by Monica Amolo were also present.
MPs from the county who did not attend the meeting are Agostinho Neto (Ndhiwa), Millie Odhiambo (Mbita), George Oner (Rangwe), Osele, Ken Obura (Kisumu Central) and James Rege (Karachuonyo). The youthful MPs from the region dubbed Young Turks, perceived to be party rebels, were not invited to the meeting over claims they had gone to bed with a non-ODM candidate.
Rege is the Homa Bay ODM branch secretary general in a team that includes former Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo (chair) and Charles Were (vice chairman) that ousted the late Otieno Kajwang’ as chair.
The meeting was convened to strategise on how to campaign for the party’s candidate and how to unite the ODM family at the county level after some branch officials complained of being neglected. After deliberations, it was agreed the campaign be managed by Homa Bay party officials.
Magwanga will chair the party’s campaign team under the supervision of Mbadi, who is also the ODM national chairman. They will be assisted by Suna East MP Junet Mohammed and Wandayi. Junet is ODM’s director of elections, while Wandayi is in charge of the party’s political affairs.
Wandayi said the party is interested in retaining the seat and must come up with a winning strategy. “We want to send out a strong political message by winning the seat with a landslide. This is like the mid-term elections in the US, which normally determine how a party performs in the subsequent general election. We are readying ourselves for 2017,” Wandayi said.
TJ Kajwang said the meeting discussed how to work as a team. “We agreed that we must mount an all-inclusive campaign and we have formed committees at the county and constituency levels, which will be run under the stewardship of area MPs”.
The Ruaraka MP said: “We have had differences in the past but all MPs have joined together so that we have a coordinated approach which will be championed and owned by the Homa Bay leaders”.
He said his brother should not be viewed as an ODM but a CORD candidate. “That is why Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka presented him the nomination certificate.”
Magwanga told The Standard on Sunday: “We will not exclude anybody, including the so-called rebels, in the campaigns, because they have not publicly declared that they are not supporting the party candidate.”
Raila reportedly explained to the leaders the circumstances that led to the selection of Mr Kajwang’, a decision that has generated a lot of political heat in the region.
“Our party leader explained to us that the party was forced to make a decision after the aspirants failed to agree on a single candidate, at a time the party was remaining with limited time to present a candidate to IEBC,” Magwanga said.
Amolo said they briefed Raila on the preparations they have to deliver the seat. “We agreed on how we will introduce our candidate to the people of Homa Bay and laid down strategies to capture the seat,” she said.
Some leaders were reportedly angered by the fact that some MPs from the region have not come out to strongly to support the ODM candidate. Raila was particularly concerned with the manner in which some party officials have refused to work together.
He is reportedly keen on hosting the faction led by Ogindo to ask them to work together to ensure ODM wins because the faction enjoys immense support in the county.
The protests that have greeted the direct nomination of Kajwang’ have left the party and its leader exposed.
The Young Turks have previously agitated for a generational change of ODM leadership.