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Raila, Mudavadi teams deadlock

By | Published Tue, March 6th 2012 at 00:00, Updated Tue, March 6th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

By VITALIS KIMUTAI

Orange Democratic Movement's highest decision-making organ, the National Executive Committee, failed to resolve the standoff between teams led by party leader and Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy Mr Musalia Mudavadi over nomination rules.

Despite the presence of the two rivals for the ODM presidential ticket in coming elections, the National Executive Committee sitting at the party headquarters in Nairobi, failed to reach consensus on any of the proposed amendments to the elections and nomination rules crafted by the internal legal team that Mudavadi’s side complains favours Raila.

The expressions on the faces of Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right), and his deputy Musalia Mudavadi (left), said it all as ODM Secretary General Anyang Nyong’o (centre) announced the stalemate over ODM nomination rules. Photo: Evans Habil/Standard.

"How do you change the nomination rules without overhauling the current constitution?" asked an MP who attended the meeting.

The NEC meeting was pushed to March 23, when all issues regarding the nomination of the ODM presidential candidate would be revisited.

Members siding with Mudavadi, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, rejected a proposal by the committee that party primaries for members of the National Assembly and the County Assembly be picked through universal suffrage, which is countrywide election by party members.

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At the meeting, attended by Raila after returning from a morning trip to Uganda for official business, it also emerged that the issue of nominating the presidential candidate through a National Delegates Congress as was the case in 2007 at the Moi International Centre, Kasarani, was avoided, and emphasis instead put on the universal suffrage system, which was also rejected.

"The Mudavadi side argued that it was not cost-effective and would also be difficult to identify party members because there are no proper registers," said an MP who attended. Others also argued that the system could easily cause chaos and could be a tactic to stop others from winning the nomination through unorthodox means.

The committee had also recommended new nomination fees, raising that of presidential aspirants to Sh4 million.

Those aspiring for positions of governor and senators would be required to pay Sh300,000 while aspirants for national assembly will pay Sh200,000.

Nomination fees for Women County Representatives are pegged at Sh100,000 and that of County Assembly at Sh20,000. Youth and persons with disabilities are to pay Sh75,000.

Sway vote

It is believed that Raila’s side fear the nationwide elections could be used by ODM members from Rift Valley, where Eldoret North MP William Ruto, who has since fallen out with the PM, wields influence, to sway the vote in favour of Mudavadi.

The PM’s side also feel the same could happen in Central Kenya where Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who is with Ruto in the G7 Alliance holds sway. Mudavadi’s side, on the other hand, does not support the delegate system because of conviction it favours the PM.

Instead of being presented by Mr Mugambi Imanyara who chairs the legal team, the report was presented to NEC by lawyer Tom Kajwang’, who is Immigration Minister and Mbita MP Otieno Kajwang’s brother, former MP Joseph Kiangoi and Mwerisa Aboso – both lawyers.

Other members of the committee are Janet Ongera, Paul Mwangi and a Mrs Pareno.

"Mugambi boycotted the meeting after it emerged that Mr Apuri Mpuri had been endorsed as the ODM chairman of Meru County, while the lawyer has always assumed that position was his," revealed a source at the meeting.

During the five-hour meeting, the officials resolved to study the proposals before another NEC meeting whose date has not been set.

So crucial was the meeting that Raila had to fly back to the country from Uganda to chair it late into the evening, taking over from Mudavadi who had led the afternoon session.

Amend Constitution

Incidentally, Raila had gone to Uganda to deliver a State message to President Museveni, whom he hosted at his Bondo home last month.

The Raila side seemed to insinuate that Museveni on his Bondo visit, mediated between the two party rivals, but Mudavadi insisted politics wasn’t discussed at the PM’s home.

Addressing a press conference after Monday’s ODM meeting, which ended just before 7pm, party Secretary General Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o said the proposed amendments to the party’s constitution had not been exhaustively discussed by the officials.

"Deputy Prime Minister (Musalia) chaired the early session before the Prime Minister arrived and chaired the remaining part of the meeting," Nyong’o explained.

"The NEC members are going to study the proposals and their submissions will be tabled in the next meeting," Nyong’o said.

Nyong’o who was sandwiched by Raila  and Musalia  — as other NEC members stood witness — said the date for the next meeting had not been set.

"We have specific requirements for making the submissions to the Registrar of Political Parties. We have not finished the issue. We have pushed it to the next meeting," Nyong’o said when further pressed to shed more light on the issues.

He also said the top decision-making party organ had agreed to embark on registration of members at the sub-locational level across the country. "Registers will be opened for inspection by interested parties for 14 days before the certified registers are submitted to the Registrar of Political Parties," Nyong’o said, but declined to divulge when the exercise would come to a close.

He added: "It is not that the party does not have members, note what we are saying is that any other member registered elsewhere will be transferred to their respective sub-locations.’’

The Secretary General also said the officials had discussed the Bills on devolution and had been taken through the Election Bill and the Political Parties Bill. "ODM MPs are committed to the implementation of Chapter 11 of the Constitution and as such they will support all the pending Bills in Parliament to operationalise the new Constitution," Nyong’o said.

No ceding ground

Sources in the meeting told The Standard that Mudavadi stood his ground on the changes his side was proposing, and that attempts to make him cede ground did not bear fruit.

Mudavadi is said to have insisted that ODM must open up its democratic space or risk losing face as the country goes into the next General Election.

It was clear from the onset that the meeting would be charged and true to the prediction, none of the attendants left the room, save for two ministers who walked out briefly to use the washrooms.

Members of the press could only watch from a distance as the officials argued and all they could see were their frantic gestures. Security officers cordoned off the area to bar non-NEC members from getting access or eavesdropping.


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