In the recent past, Orange Democratic Movement Leader Raila Odinga has faced a fresh challenge as pressure piles on him to purge party rebels rather than give them more arsenals to rock the party.
But Raila has chosen to engage the 'moles' resulting into more drama in the party with the largest following in the country.
Even as the opposition 'captain' reaches out to the rebels, either way, he will have to bite the bullet and disappoint some of his allies along the way.
The pressure on Raila to kick out rebels came from Senators and National Assembly Members allied to former Homa Bay, the late Senator Otieno Kajwang who passed on Tuesday night reportedly from cardiac arrest.
Prior to his demise, the senator argued that the former prime minister had been far too "charitable" to the faction accused of plotting to oust him. As reports of fresh infighting emerged, Kajwang conceded the, "rebellion in the party was growing" and warned the party boss to "stop pretending that he is in charge when rebellion is threatening to disintegrate the party."
Consequently, he wanted him to bite the bullet and rid the party of rebels or risk brewing more rebellion as his adversaries were becoming "bolder and harsher" in the criticism. The senator who was a member of Raila's inner circle said, "The former PM is increasingly losing his political capital" in his Nyanza, Western and Coast strongholds."
"I support Raila, but he makes his own decisions. You are not a better leader when you see some people decide to go. He should do what Musalia Mudavadi did in his (UDF) party: force the rebels to seek fresh mandate on another party. If he goes into the referendum when the rebellion is still on, he should be sure of losing it and that would effectively bring the curtains down on his political life," Kajwang explained.
The demand comes in the wake of Raila's defence of executive Lagat Magerer against accusations of sabotaging the party. He assured the beleaguered head of party secretariat on Wednesday that he would not be dismissed as demanded by 'loyalists' who two weeks ago assaulted him.
Kajwang's calls to expel rebels coincided with an attempt to recall Sirisia MP John Waluke in Bungoma County by grassroots leaders for publicly propagating the agenda of the governing Jubilee coalition.
At the Coast, Gideon Mung'aro also faces threats of ejection for rooting for Jubilee government.
The renegades allied to Budalang'i MP Ababu Namwamba have scoffed at attempts to expel them for their divergent opinions, saying such a decision has the potential to derail the official opposition from forming the next government.
The extreme positions put Raila between a rock and a hard place as he navigates, arguably, through the most difficult phase of political career since the reintroduction of political pluralism 22 years ago. Both Kajwang and Namwamba groups concur ODM's survival as a strong and effective opposition party depends on how the former prime minister harmonises the interests of the various groups, but differ on mode of execution. "Strong political movements are gatherers, not 'scatterers' of members. We know from experience how costly it can be. If we still had William Ruto, Musalia Mudavadi, Charity Ngilu and many others who were forced out, ODM would be a strong force. Every time you push out a member it has a domino effect," observed Namwamba.
Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga supports cleaning up the party, but says it should be done after drawing a line between truth and propaganda, which he says is the cause of feuding in the Orange party.
'There are loopholes in the party that some of our embers have been using to give third parties our secrets. If party regulations have been breached, then the members should be expelled. We should learn to keep our secrets," Anyanga says. The same position is held by ODM Secretary-General Anyang Nyong'o, who quashed a fortnight ago a takeover by Wafula Buke, the director of political affairs.
As the two groups throw jabs at each other, Raila has seemingly chosen to stay above the fray. Speaking on KTN Prime News on Wednesday, he described the name-calling and mudslinging in his party as political strategy the various interests groups are deploying to get the better of each other.
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Raila acknowledged there is serious problem in the party and has opted to use diplomacy to narrow the differences that have escalated since the botched February 28 party polls.
"As thing stands at present, he is likely to lose the referendum because of the rebellion in the party, which in turn means he will have lost political capital unless he reins in the rebels. He must go to war – win or lose- to send a warning that he is still in charge. Else, we are looking at situation where Raila will be forced out of politics weak and ignominiously," said the Homa Bay Senator four days before his passing adding that his boss spends precious time trying to negotiate with rebels who are on the payroll of the government at the expense of collective party interests.
"Raila faces a palace coup, but he does not seem to recognise it serious enough to bring his political career to a screeching halt." Sidebar: Sibling rivalry threatens to bring ODM house down.
ODM is currently torn between a faction allied to Namwamba, which includes Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, Nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro, Kisumu Town MP Ken Obura, Ndhiwa MP Agostino Neto, Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo Mabona, Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Gideon Mung'aro, among others. The group that has stood with Raila since the fissures began to widen include Anganga, Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma, Suna East MP Mohammed Junet, Gwasi MP John Mbadi and Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang, among others.