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Litmus test for Ford Kenya as rival groups claim control of Lion party

By Grace Wekesa | Published Sun, November 20th 2016 at 00:00, Updated November 20th 2016 at 00:16 GMT +3
Bungoma County Senator Moses Wetang’ula Chat with Dr Eseli Simiyu Mp Tongaren at his Namuyemba village home in Kanduyi constituency. Ford Kenya is running into a political storm in its bid to strengthen itself ahead of the elections as two rival groups hold parallel meetings over the party’s leadership.  (PHOTO: TITUS OTEBA/STANDARD)

Ford Kenya is running into a political storm in its bid to strengthen itself ahead of the elections as two rival groups hold parallel meetings over the party’s leadership.

On one side is party leader Moses Wetang’ula whose faction will hold a National Governing Council (NGC) meeting on Saturday at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi. On the other is a splinter group led by Ken Wafula, a human rights activist, which will hold a parallel meeting in Thika.

The Bomas meeting is expected to endorse Wetang’ula’s presidential bid, an agenda the Wafula faction is opposed to.

Ford Kenya Secretary General Eseli Simiyu has dismissed the Thika meeting, saying Wafula is a stranger to the party. “Wafula is not a Ford Kenya member, he belongs to Safina. He should stop masquerading as a Ford Kenya official in Trans-Nzoia,’’ said Eseli.

The Tongaren MP termed Wafula a gun for hire out to wreck the party ahead of the elections. “Wafula has no authority to talk about Ford Kenya. What his group is doing is illegal,’’ he said.

But Wafula dismissed Eseli’s sentiments, saying he has been a member of Ford Kenya since 1996.

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“That I am not a Ford Kenya member is falsehood spread by Eseli and Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale. The two recently confirmed my status as a genuine member at the Registrar of Political Parties,’’ he said.

Party elections

Wafula has turned the tables on Wetang’ula and other Ford Kenya leaders, demanding an explanation on failure by the party to conduct elections every four years and convene the National Delegates Convention (NDC) every two years.

“Wetang’ula should respond to our grievances during the general council meeting in Thika. We also expect him to explain why he should be the Ford Kenya presidential candidate and lay strategies on the table. We doubt he is capable of flying the party’s flag,’’ said Wafula.

The party’s Nairobi branch chairman Lupesa Komesa and his Khwisero counterpart Zadock Mbinyi have warned members against attending the Bomas meeting. They said the Thika meeting will bring together 300 members from the 47 counties, 290 party constituency leaders, 386 delegates and 51 NGC members.

“We have mobilised our members to make sure we have one meeting in Thika. Any member who attends the Bomas meeting will face the consequences. We are the true owners of Ford Kenya and capable of leading the party,’’ said Komesa.

The two officials have blamed the wrangles in Ford Kenya on Khalwale, the newly appointed deputy leader, and took issue with Wetang’ula for flaunting party laws by appointing the senator as his deputy.

“Khalwale is a stranger who has imposed himself in the party. He is the genesis of all these problems. He was handpicked in an outright violation of the party constitution. A number of FK MPs are with us,’’ said Mbinyi.

Asked to comment on the recent happenings, Khalwale termed it as “nonsense”.

Fights in Ford Kenya have been witnessed every election period since the party was formed.

Past memories

The latest development in Ford Kenya rekindle memories of the 1994 fights for the party’s control between the late Kijana Wamalwa and CORD leader Raila Odinga at Thika grounds, following the death of Opposition supremo and Raila’s father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

Wamalwa emerged victorious, edging out Raila who decamped to form the National Development Party.

After the demise of Wamalwa in 2003, former Cabinet Minister Musikari Kombo took over leadership. In March 2011, Wetang’ula took over as the party leader.


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