Azimio calls Parliamentary Group retreat as rebellion grows

ODM leaders, from left, Raila Odinga, Junet Mohamed, Wycliffe Oparanya and Hassan Ali Joho at a Nairobi Hotel. [Phelix Odhiambo, Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga's Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition which is fomenting a rebellion against the government is also tasting a dose of its own medicine after some of its troops shifted allegiance to President William Ruto. 

Consequently, Azimio has called a two day Parliamentary Group retreat from Thursday to stem the growing rebellion in its ranks.

The meeting, to be held in Machakos county is expected to set the agenda for Parliament expected to resume next Tuesday. There is speculation that rebellion within the Azimio ranks will be part of the discussion.

The import of the retreat and the unease in the opposition became apparent on Tuesday when a section of ODM legislators met the President at State House, Nairobi, at a time Raila has intensified attacks on Ruto’s administration in recent public rallies.

The leaders who met met the President and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua are Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda and MPs Shakeel Shabir (Kisumu Town East), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Paul Abuor (Rongo) John Owino (Awendo) and Felix Odiwuor (Langata).

While acknowledging the meeting with the Nyanza MPs, the Head of State on his official Twitter handle said that leaders must join hands, foster coexistence and work together in confronting the challenges facing our country.

“They must endeavour to lead by example and serve the interest of the people. This is a sure route to a more united and developed Kenya. At State House, Nairobi, held a consultative meeting with MPs from Nyanza following a recent visit to the region,” he tweeted.

A statement from ODM issued by Director of Communication Phillip Etale said the visit to State House by its Members of Parliament has not come as a surprise to the party and Azimio.

The party said it has been monitoring closely the behind-the-scenes activities involving some of its MPs with their visit to State House being the climax with most of them having been avoiding rallies organised by Raila.

“Since the victory of our party leader was stolen and the will of the people subverted after the General Election, some leaders have elected to undermine the leadership of the party and chosen to go against the will of the people who elected them to positions they hold,” read the statement.

ODM said that three months ago, the Azimio leadership began rallies to push for the reclamation of its victory from the hands of the illegitimate administration in order to provide the leadership Kenyans want, but all along, it knew the enemy will not sit pretty.

The party leadership further claimed that their rivals have started spending stolen money to hoodwink some leaders to scuttle its political activities aimed at diverting the attention of Kenyans from issues ranging from the high cost of living, unbearable school fees for their children and corruption.

“We know that in the quest for legitimate leadership, there are those who will fall by the wayside, and some will be compromised, but the movement remains unstoppable, this is a people’s movement aimed at defending the Constitution of the land,” said the party.

The ODM leadership warned that history will judge harshly leaders who betray Kenyans by accepting handouts to scuttle the activities of Azimio and called on Kenyans to ignore such selfish leaders who only care about their stomachs and not the well-being of the poor people.

Some Jubilee Party leaders have also decided to work with the government and have been avoiding public rallies addressed by Raila that have been deemed to be anti-government.

During the Azimio rally at Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi two weeks ago, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka said that they were keenly observing leaders who were elected to Parliament on Azimio affiliate parties’ but have kept off their meetings.

"We are keenly looking at Azimio la Umoja Members of Parliament avoiding our meetings and are working with the Kenya Kwanza Alliance barely five months after being elected since they are going against the wishes of the people who elected them," said Kalonzo.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi told The Standard that the purpose of the Azimio PG is to take stock of the gains made since the August 2022 General Election and the losses and chart the way forward especially with Parliament resuming sittings.

“Once our leader announces a political rally, members of the public and political leaders attend voluntarily, those who fail to attend are also within their right but political choices have political consequences, however non-attendance of political rallies is not worrying us,” said Wandayi.

It will be interesting to see if Jubilee Party MPs would turn up for the meeting since two weeks ago they met President  Ruto and Gachagua at State House and pledged to work with the Kenya Kwanza administration.

Nominated MP Sabina Chege and Eala MP Kanini Kega led the Jubilee legislators to State House including David Kiaraho (Ol Kalou), Irene Njoki (Bahati), Zachary Kwenya (Kinangop), Shadrack Mwiti (South Imenti) and Mark Mwenje (Embakasi West).

Others who attended the meeting were Lamu Senator Joseph Githuku and MPs Amos Mwago (Starehe), Daniel Karitho (Igembe Central), Stanley Muthama (Lamu West).

Chege who was key figure during Azimio campaigns made it clear that Jubilee allied MPs from Mount Kenya region will rally behind the DP who is the Mount Kenya region kingpin in respect of the decision made by the voters during the August 2022 General Election.

“The people of Mount Kenya where I come from made a decision during the August 2022 General Election where they voted for William Ruto and Rigathi Gachagua, even though I was an Azimio La Umoja diehard during the campaigns I respect authority,” she said.

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