President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga have renewed political rivalry after the Head of State met with the ‘rebel’ ODM MPs a day after the opposition accused House leadership of being biased.
The president took lunch with the eight renegade MPs a day after the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal gave them a reprieve from expulsion.
Ruto met with the seven MPs led by Kisumu senator Tom Ojienda at the State House lawn and held a tete-a-tete lasting two hours. The MPs who drove to State House at 1pm left at 3pm after what sources said discussed priority projects the MPs wanted the President to help implement in Nyanza.
The MPs included Senator Ojienda, Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Phelix Odiwuor (Lang’ata), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Caroli Omondi (Suba South) and Rongo’s Paul Abuor.
A source said the MPs affirmed their commitment to work with the government in support of development programmes in the region.
They told the President they appreciated on behalf of the people from Nyanza the bold decision taken by the Ruto administration to address historical problems in the sugar sector.
The MPs assured the President that they will support the Sugar Bill coming up at the National Assembly for discussion tomorrow (today).
They noted that the first commercial flight to Migori County happens today following earlier engagement on the same by the leadership.
The MPs who were last week kicked out by the Orange party invited the Head of State to visit the region on a development tour just like he had done in Coast, Mt Kenya, Rift Valley, Kisii, and recently in Western.
During their National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, ODM expelled the seven MPs for working with the President but fined Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris for voting for the Finance Act in support of the Kenya Kwanza legislators.
The source said the MPs asked the President to help the region build Kabonyo Kanyagwal centre of excellence for aquaculture in Kisumu County.
“The MPs told the President that they had resolved to work with him come what may and vowed to stay put noting that their political future was bigger than the current tribulations they were encountering in ODM,” said the source.
They noted the government had budgeted Sh1 billion, and the procurement was complete waiting for the contract to be finalised.
Before the meeting with the President, the MPs agreed on a follow-up meeting with the head of state to continue pushing for the region’s development agenda and plan for Ruto’s tour of Nyanza.
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As the President was meeting the Nyanza MPs, ODM faulted National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula for getting involved in its party politics.
Party Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna criticised Wetang’ula for commenting on the decision to expel some members.
Sifuna claimed the Speaker has clung to the Kenya Kwanza side while holding office, in which he should be non-partisan.
“We draw a line on the involvement of the Speaker of the National Assembly, who, while holding an office that makes him both the head of the crucial third arm of government and therefore a supposed neutral arbiter in legislative and political party issues, cannot take sides in partisan matters,” Sifuna said.
The party was responding to Wetangula’s remarks on Sunday, September 10 where he told off ODM party leader for expelling some members, instead of allowing them to serve the public.
“We want to tell all elected leaders that the door to work with government is open as long as it is done in a constitutional manner. The same frustrations mated to those leaders also happened to us,” Wetang’ula said in Uriri.
Sifuna reminded Wetang’ula of his duty to declare the seats vacant in case the party pushed through with the expulsion. “He cannot therefore have any opinion on the matter until the party has undertaken its mandate as to do so would be extremely prejudicial,” Sifuna added.
He advised the Speaker to call the expelled MPs to join his Ford-Kenya party.