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Trouble in Raila Odinga's paradise

ODM leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga is facing a silent mutiny as a section of MPs express dissatisfaction with the running of party affairs.

While the defeat of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya in the August 9 General Election appears to have punctured the Orange party, last week’s unveiling of the coalition's parliamentary leadership has exposed it's soft underbelly.

A pointer to the trouble is the decision by Nominated MP John Mbadi to oppose the lineup unveiled by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka detailing Azimio’s leadership in the National Assembly and the Senate.

The ODM chairman has rejected Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi’s pick as the Majority Leader in the National Assembly despite this being a collective decision that involved the party leader.

The Nominated MP, who served as Minority Leader in the 12th Parliament, is one of the loya allies of Mr Odinga.

The MPs are also said to have been irked by the decision to pick Suna East MP Junet Mohamed as Majority Whip.

The discontent is said to have permeated into the county assemblies controlled by ODM.

On Monday, Mr Odinga was forced to fly to Kisumu to calm the waters after the battle for assembly leadership positions threatened to tear the party apart.

Mr Mohamed has been in the cross hairs of Azimio supporters in the wake of Mr Odinga’s fifth failed presidential ambition.

Tuesday, the Suna East MP dismissed those against him, saying some were bitter with him for their own reasons.

"There are people who are bitter and that is within their right. You can see the party and the coalition has faith in me that is why I was given the job of the Chief Whip," he said.

Presidential election

Although Mr Odinga released a statement defending the MP over various allegations, the lawmakers have blamed him (Mohamed) for the failure and disorganisation that may have led to the Azimio defeat.

A section of MPs claimed Mr Mohamed mismanaged the presidential campaign, failed to recruit presidential agents in some areas and in some cases did not pay the agents although funds were released.

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

In defending the MP, Mr Odinga noted that the issue of agents was not the reason for what he termed as mishandled elections or why they lost the presidential election.

“Junet was a campaign lead in the team to support Raila. He at no time even once handled funds meant for agents nor did he have anything to do with the management of funds,” said the ODM leader.

Tuesday, Mr Mbadi admitted that he has issues with the manner in which Azimio picked the parliamentary leadership, but dismissed claims of discontent in ODM.

Still united

“Wherever people fight for positions, there are bound to be issues. Personally, I'm not happy because I believe the lineup that was unveiled was a product of a wrong announcement,” he said.

“I have communicated to the leadership of the coalition my reservations about the lineup. Our party leader is seized of the matter. He is in charge and I'm sure he will address my concerns. But such fight for positions cannot be equated with turmoil or tension in the party. It is democracy.”

Mr Wandayi also denied claims of tension in ODM.

“Things are smooth in our party and in our coalition,” he said, adding that they had left Stoni Athi in one accord.

“Azimio coalition party is cohesive, united and focused in the National Assembly. Members are upbeat and they are prepared to take their roles and put the executive under check.”

While Wandayi admitted there could be challenges, he revealed that the leadership has adopted an open-door policy and a spirit of consensus in the management of Azimio affairs.

“This applies in ODM, my party, which is united and ready to play its role,” he said.

Signs of trouble in the party played out two weeks ago when Rarieda MP Otiende Amolo and his Alego counterpart Samuel Atandi accused some unnamed people around Mr Odinga of sabotage.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amolo. [Collins Oduor, Standar]

Mr Atandi linked the presidential defeat to sycophants around the ODM leader, who he claimed had clouded the region's politics and former Prime Minister's ambition. “The sycophants are not teachable and are oblivious of Raila's loss. It is time for reflection,” he said.

Azimio council

The Azimio leadership in the House was unveiled on Saturday after a two-day retreat at Stoni Athi Resort in Machakos County where the names were agreed upon by 26 constituent parties.

Mr Mohamed may have benefited by virtue of being the Azimio Secretary General. According to an MP who did not want to be named, the  coalition leaders may have decided to have an Azimio official as part of the House leadership for effective coordination.

Azimio Council is chaired by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“In their wisdom, they needed a person from Azimio to have a position in the National Assembly,” said the MP.

“Since Junet sits in the Council, he was the perfect candidate. They want to have Azimio remain a solid entity.”