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Raila vs Musalia

BUSINESS
By | April 5th 2012

By Vitalis Kimutai

The heat under ODM collars must have cooled somewhat after the party National Executive Council (NEC) drew up a plan expected to resolve the nomination stalemate between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy Musalia Mudavadi.

The meeting held at Orange House last evening agreed to change nomination rules in the ODM constitution to legalise competition for the party presidential candidate.

The decision on how to nominate the candidate was, however, deferred to next week when another special meeting would be convened.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left), Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi moments after their National Executive Council meeting at Orange House in Nairobi on Wednesday. [Photo: Govedi Asutsa/Standard]

"Another group came up with fresh demands that nominations for the presidential candidate be conducted from the locational level in the counties," said an MP, who attended the meeting.

"It was generally agreed that the nominations be held from the grassroots level, but the dispute now is at what level, locational or county?" added an MP allied to Mudavadi.

A dispute has been simmering in the party after Mudavadi demanded that the nominations be conducted at counties.

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He then embarked on a countrywide campaign, meeting delegates at the counties, across the country.

Raila’s supporters led by Local Government Minister William ole Ntimama and several Cabinet ministers from Nyanza had, however, insisted that the National Delegates Conference (NDC) pick the candidate.

Another hotly disputed issue was the contentious clause in the party constitution, which gives the party leader an automatic ticket to contest for the presidency.

The meeting agreed to repeal the clause to allow an open contest for all those seeking to campaign for the presidential ticket.

Raila arrived at the meeting early, but Mudavadi who was attending a presidential function in Nyeri, came late after some leaders began speculating that he could have skipped the function.

Mudavadi has been pushing for the removal of the contentious clause that gives the party leader an automatic ticket to contest for president.

Last month, another ODM NEC meeting was told that the clause was introduced into the constitution in 2008.

Last week, ODM national vice-chairperson, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, declared that the clause would not be changed.

A NEC meeting held last month failed to reach a consensus on the contentious clause, which states that the party leader shall become its presidential candidate in the subsequent General Election.

FAIR ELECTION

Lands Minister James Orengo brought the clause to the meeting’s attention, warning that it would take an amendment of the party constitution to remove the clause and allow for presidential primaries.

The party is racing against time to meet the requirements of the Political Parties Act before the April 31 deadline.

It includes signing the Political Parties Code of Conduct and acquiring at least 1,000 members in more than half of the 47 counties.

Raila said after a five- hour closed door meeting which he chaired on Wednesday, that members of the party organ had fruitful discussions on the way forward on the contentious issues, which threatened to divide the party.

"We have had fruitful deliberations with all members present here today, and agreed to move forward together," Raila told the Press during a briefing at 7pm. Musalia, Cabinet minister, Mohamed Elmi, Assistant Minister Joseph Nkaissery, among others, were present during the briefing.

Anyang’ Nyong’o’ the party Secretary General, announced that the legal team would spend the Easter holidays drafting and harmonising the proposed changes to the constitution before another NEC meeting next week.

"The legal team will harmonise nomination and election rules to ensure members are not subjected to unnecessary and complicated process," Prof Nyongo said.

He said that the lawyers under the chairmanship of Mugambi Imanyara would also ensure that the proposed changes did not contradict the party constitution.

"The nomination and election rules affects many sections of the constitution and there is need to ensure that there are no contradictions," Nyongo said.

"The legal team would not be enjoying their Easter holidays owing to the enormity of the matter at hand," Nyong’o said.

The Medical Services Minister said that the rules being drafted would apply to all elective positions – presidential, parliamentary, Senate, Gubernatorial, Women Representative and County Assembly Representative.

"The party is carefully looking at the rules," he said.

Though he declined to name the exact date that the NEC meeting would be held, Nyong’o said it would be shortly after the Easter holidays.

The proposed changes, he said, would be tabled before the parties National Governing Council for adoption as the party seeks to comply with the Political Parties Act.

Those who attended the meeting included Cabinet ministers William Ntimama, Dalmas Otieno, Joseph Nyagah, Langat Magerer, Josephat Nanok, former MP Reuben Ndolo, and former MP Joseph Misoi.

Prof Nyong’o expressed optimism that the party would beat the April 30 deadline for registration under the Political Parties Act 2011.

"We have, however, come to the realisation that some parties have adopted unconventional methods of registering members to meet the demands for registering 1,000 members in more than 24 counties," Nyong’o said.

He added that even some ODM MPs and councillors had been registered through crude methods as members of other parties seek to remain relevant in the new political dispensation.

Raila chaired the meeting for three hours before the arrival of Mudavadi.

The delay sent fears among some NEC members that the DPM would not turn up.

Raila and Mudavadi, unlike in the previous NEC meetings where there was a falling out on Wednesday shook hands and posed for pictures before the press conference.

Earlier, Raila had said the contest between him and Mudavadi would eventually strengthen ODM and that so far, it was the most talked about party.

"The contest has opened up the democratic space in the party and it will unite its members," Raila said.

The PM said if Musalia beats him in the nomination, he would support him to succeed President Kibaki.

Raila said ODM was the only party where the presidential ticket was being hotly contested, as the others had preferred aspirants who would get direct nomination.

Ndolo said the party would not split, as it did not belong to either Raila or Musalia, but the masses.

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