An Anglican bishop has called for another political outfit to challenge the dominance of the Orange Democratic Movement in Nyanza region.
Bishop James Ochiel (pictured) of the Southern Nyanza Diocese accused the Raila Odinga-led party of slowing down development in the region and stiffing internal democracy by attacking those opposed to its policies.
The cleric said Nyanza needed more political parties to compete with ODM and give voters more options.
“Why do we support only one political party,” he asked.
In a rare but bold attack on the party that controls politics in Nyanza and some parts of western Kenya, Bishop Ochiel accused ODM of nominating weak and non-assertive candidates based on party loyalty and consequently denying the region strong leaders.
The bishop spoke to journalists in his office in Homa Bay.
Her accused some leaders elected on the ODM party ticket of not helping to develop the region, saying they showed more allegiance to the party leader than to the people.
“We are not doing very well like the other counties because some leaders were imposed on the people. These leaders know that their loyalty to the party leader, Raila Odinga, is the only thing that will get them re-elected and not development,” said Ochiel.
But ODM’s secretary for political affairs, Opiyo Wandayi, dismissed the bishop’s criticism, saying his attacks on the party were misplaced.
“Kenya is a multi-party democracy. He (the bishop) can form his own party to compete with ODM,” said Mr Wandayi, who is also the MP for Ugunja.
The MP asked the bishop to join politics.
“He is also free to join elective politics to fill the leadership gap that he is talking about.”
On Ochiel’s assertion that ODM nominations were not democratic, Wandayi said the bishop was an ‘outsider’ and should not comment on the party’s issues.
“It is for ODM members and not outsiders to determine whether they are happy with the party nominations. Political parties are members’ clubs with their own internal rules of engagement,” the MP said.
Bishop Ochiel also criticised governors in Nyanza, saying they were doing little to spur development. He accused them of promoting party politics instead.
“Our region is lagging behind in development because our people are hooked to party politics,” said Ochiel.