We won’t back off, CORD ‘rebels’ vow amid calls to quit

Are they party rebels or conformists? That is the big question some CORD MPs are grappling with, as critics demand they quit for allegedly shifting their political loyalty to rival Jubilee Alliance.

Sirisia MP Major (Rtd) John Waluke, Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama and Kilifi North MP Gideon Mungaro have been accused of being rebels without a cause.

Also featuring in the list are ODM MPs Mustafa Idi of Kilifi South, Zainab Chidzuga from Kwale and Dalmas Otieno of Rongo, who have defied party positions on various issues to side with the Jubilee administration.

ODM officials in Bungoma and Nakuru have threatened to take disciplinary action against Waluke and Arama while Dalmas is now viewed with suspicion in Nyanza since he announced plans to form the ‘Kalausi’ party to rival ODM.

In Coast, Mungaro has been openly critical of ODM since his removal as the CORD Minority Chief Whip in Parliament and has been rallying local MPs to form a regional party.

His political maneuvers have lately been to the chagrin of ODM national and grassroots leaders.

But Waluke, who this week come out to explain his political stand, denies abandoning ODM, arguing he has fully conformed to party policy.

“We campaigned on the promise that ODM, and by extension CORD, would champion development. The problem is some leaders treat ODM as a junior CORD partner in Bungoma and want to infringe on my right to associate with other leaders to develop my constituency,” Waluke says.

“What cause are you more likely to support? Fighting for welfare of the people like creating opportunities for investment and providing clean water or working with leaders from another Opposition party keen to undermine you?” he poses.

The MP has come under attack from Bungoma County Assembly Majority Leader Majimbo Okumu, who is among those who have accused him of working with Jubilee to undermine the Opposition.

Fresh mandate

“I am challenging Waluke to quit and seek fresh mandate on a Jubilee ticket. He has been going against the party and cooperating with the Jubilee government,” says Majimbo.

“We will convene a branch meeting soon to institute disciplinary action against him as stipulated in the Political Parties Act,” said Majimbo.

Being the only ODM MP in Bungoma pits Waluke against his CORD counterparts from the Ford-Kenya wing of the coalition led by Senator Moses Wetang’ula.

“What we have done over the last one year in Sirisia is like day against night when compared to what was there,” Waluke says in response to his critics.

Cracks emerged early last year long before Waluke was accused of working with the Jubilee administration. It came after the inclusion of Mr Wetang’ula in CORD by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Waluke, who also doubles up as the ODM county chairman, cried foul, accusing Raila of making the wrong decision to form an alliance with Wetang’ula and his Ford-Kenya party.

Although Waluke largely remained silent, his actions have since spoken louder than words.

He argues had Raila not decided to work with Wetang’ula, ODM could have bagged more than five seats under his stewardship in Bungoma.

He says he will chart his own course and push for the welfare of Sirisia people by exploiting all avenues including working with President Kenyatta.

“I will not leave ODM because the party leader has not raised any issues with me, but at the same time, I will continue engaging the Jubilee government on development of Sirisia and the region,” says Waluke.

Among the projects he has listed are the Sh600 million Sirisia water project, tarmacking of the Chwele – Lwandanyi – Lwakhakha road and opening of a customs office at Lwakhakha border township for cross border trade.

He told his critics that unlike other areas like Kanduyi where residents enjoy piped water courtesy of former President Mwai Kibaki’s intervention, Sirsia was left behind.

In Nakuru, Arama is under siege in his party where he is being accused of being a rebel without a cause.

ODM leaders in Nakuru warn Arama risks losing his seat due to his persistent attacks on the party and its leadership over CORD’s push for a national referendum.

Being the only ODM MP in Central and South Rift, Arama was expected to spearhead the referendum agenda in the region dominated by Jubilee.

But Arama, instead, has chosen to work with Jubilee, putting his loyalty to the party under sharp scrutiny. ODM officials now want him to quit rather than rock the boat from within.

Even as the ODM disciplinary committee prepares to discuss his conduct following a petition filed by party leaders from Nakuru County, Arama has remained defiant.

“I have no apologies to make. CORD’s push for a referendum is misplaced and the Opposition must look at other ways of helping Kenyans fight joblessness and other ills affecting society,” he told The Standard on Sunday.

Nothing to offer

Arama has time and again rubbed the CORD fraternity the wrong way with claims the Opposition has nothing to offer and “is wasting Kenyans’ time” with the push for a plebiscite.

His open support for Jubilee has not gone down well with local ODM operatives trying to neutralise him through political rallies organised in his backyard.

Recently, a planned rally called to sensitise Nakuru Town West residents on CORD’s referendum push failed to take off after police dispersed party youth. The war of words between the MP’s supporters and a rival group headed by local ODM branch officials escalated into a physical battle at the Soko Mjinga Grounds.

Arama has warned local ODM leaders against holding rallies in his political backyard, saying the meetings were meant to undermine him. “What happened in Kaptembwo is just but a shadow of what will happen next time ODM leaders hold a rally in my constituency,” said the defiant MP, adding that he was never involved in the planning of the meeting.

He dismissed the group that organised the meeting as unpopular leaders out to undermine him politically.