Pressure piles in CORD over Gideon Mun'garo ouster

Coast MPs are today expected to meet and pile pressure on CORD leader Raila Odinga, over the removal of Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro as Minority Whip at the National Assembly.

The MPs and other Coast leaders will be in Kilifi to make what they termed as a far-reaching political declaration with regards to the region’s political interests in solidarity with Mung’aro, who is the chairman of the Coast Parliamentary Group.

Lobbying was yesterday intense among MPs and even governors from the region to join hands and stand with Mung’aro, an agenda they argue will bear new found unity that will drive the interest of the Coast region.

Raging pressure

There are fears that the decision to replace Mun’garo with Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu may backfire with pressure piling on the latter to decline the position in solidarity with the ‘people’ from the Coast.

But yesterday, Mwadeghu, who is in India, said he was yet to officially be informed of the decision that has sparked intense political rivalry among CORD leaders at the Coast.

“I have not received any formal communication regarding the developments in the coalition but I will comment authoritatively once I arrive home,” Mwadeghu told The Standard on Saturday on telephone from India.

If the raging pressure for Mwadeghu to decline the appointment is sustained, then CORD will have to revert the strategy, which is seen as an attempt to discipline dissenting members. 

“We shall be in Kilifi Saturday (today). Kenyans must watch this space to see how we shall come together and make a decision that will determine how we will move forward,” said Mun’garo’s close ally who wished not to be named.

Yesterday, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said the process to remove Mung’aro negated the democratic ideals the coalition stands for.

“The issue is not about Mung’aro but the process used to remove him. We believe that we are a democratic party and we should practice that. Will we use the same process next time when allegation about either Jakoyo Midiwo or Francis Nyenze is raised?” asked Nassir.

Nyenze is the Minority Leader while Midiwo is Cord’s Deputy Minority Leader. He said that though he opposed the manner in which Mungaro was ousted, he was loyal to the ODM and warned that threats from his colleagues will only alienate the region from the party.

“Our stand will remain the same if any other party official will be removed without being given a chance to defend himself,” said Nassir.

Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, however, said the decision to remove Mung’aro was reached after serious consultation on his activities. “The decision to remove the current minority chief whip is due to his activities with the Jubilee Government in the Coast,” he claimed.

He was speaking at the Iftar function attended by CORD Principlal Kalonzo Musyoka, at the home of Sheikh Twaha Omar Jaabu, the chairman of the Muslim Yatima Foundation in Bamburi, Mombasa.

Litmus test

Omar dared the Coast MPs who wish to decamp from CORD to go ahead and stop threats. “I am tired of this claim that all of us will reject CORD leadership because of the decision to drop Mun’garo from the position of the minority chief whip, let the MPs do that now and not later,” he said.

He asked the Mijikenda leaders to be careful on the decision to decamp from CORD coalition as the position of the chief minority whip must be respected. Amidst the divisions, it was apparent that Raila faces a litmus test of consolidating the Coast region vote bloc in his pursuit for a national referendum.

Speaking at the event, Musyoka said the suffering in Kenya affected everyone and the move to have the referendum was expected to be supported by all. He dismissed the statement by the Interior minister Joseph Ole Lenku, that CORD was using land to woe Kenyans to support the referendum.

However, independent observers doubted if Mung’aro had enough clout to lead a rebellion against Raila’s coalition.

“The question even as we say that CORD will be weakened is does Munga’ro have enough clout and are Coast leaders who have backed him ready to walk out with him from ODM? My answer is I don’t think so,” said Maimuna Mwidau, Coast political analyst. An ally of Mwadeghu said the Wundanyi MP could decline the position.