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Pressure mounts on ODM rebels in Western to quit

COUNTIES
By Standard Team | July 5th 2016

Wrangling in the Orange Democratic Movement party yesterday escalated as pressure mounted on two top officials to quit.

Secretary General Ababu Namwamba has threatened to resign if the party continues to disrespect him, while Vice Chairman Paul Otuoma announced he would be resigning from his position.

But yesterday, three legislators from Nyanza declared ODM will never be arm-twisted by some officials who had already shown signs of quitting.

MPs Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem), Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and Fred Outa (Nyando) told Namwamba he had been hand-picked for the position by party leader Raila Odinga and, therefore, could not talk of being stripped of powers.

“The concerns are not genuine and there is more than meets the eye. All these officials were handpicked by the party leader. They must do as the hand-picker wants.

“They are like a caretaker committee, but Namwamba wants to speak as if he was elected. The truth is he was not,” said Midiwo.

Midiwo said the party came up with other positions like that of secretary of political affairs and director of elections to ensure powers were not concentrated in the secretary general’s post.

“This was a measure to safeguard the well-being of the party. We will not be distracted by anybody. He may have other imaginations on that position but that is what we have for a secretary general,” Midiwo said.

He said the party would not allow disgruntled individuals to break the party as was witnessed in 2007, when the Orange party was splint into ODM-K and ODM.

Wandayi told the rebel MPs to go, saying, “ODM party is bigger than an individual who is out to harm it. We will not allow any traitors to give us conditions. Those who want to quit should do it peacefully.”

But in a swift rejoinder, Otuoma vowed to remain in the party but insisted he would fight for the Western region issues from within.

REPEATED ACCUSATION

The Funyula lawmaker blamed a section of ODM leaders who he accused of “thinking they are more ODM than others”.

“Why do you think that this party belongs to you more than others. Some of us are more ODM than you think. We are major stakeholders in this party. Any person can be expelled from the party,” he said.

Otuoma repeated the accusation that Raila was visiting the region without proper coordination and failing to address issues they had raised as Western leaders. 

“We wanted to engage our party leader on a number of issues and that should not be trivialised. We should not be branded moles simply because we have raised pertinent issues that need to be discussed,” he said.

“We had a pre-election negotiation pact when we formed CORD (Coalition for Reforms and Democracy). But we are just seeing things happen and no one is involving us.

“As leaders we cannot account for what is happening in CORD to our supporters. It’s fundamental that the issue is addressed,” said Otuoma.

But party chairman John Mbadi said both Otuoma and Namwamba could be having other issues apart from the ones they presented during a recent Central Management Committee meeting at Orange House.

Mr Mbadi claimed Otuoma had shown interest in ousting Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, a person he (Otuoma) felt was being imposed on voters against their will.

“They (Ababu and Otuoma) know that Ojaamong is deeply rooted in ODM and they are looking for ways to oust him on a different political outfit,” he claimed.

The Suba MP said Otuoma had boycotted most of the party’s recent National Executive Council (NEC) meetings without apology.

But Governor Ojamoong denied claims he was imposed on the people by Raila, challenging any other contestant for a political duel in the nominations.

The county chief said he had never been favoured by the party leader since he had been subjected to a transparent nomination process where he beat other candidates in the last General Election and was ready to battle it out again.

“I went through a fair, transparent and credible nomination with other candidates and I won. I will vie again and will be ready for any challenge, even from Otuoma,” said Ojamoong.

The Busia governor castigated Dr Otuoma for contributing Sh1.2 million during a fundraiser, adding that the lawmaker was not known to be that generous in the past.

At the same time, over 100 professionals from Busia County have called on Namwamba, Otuoma and area senator Amos Wako to quit ODM.

Busia Professionals Association chairperson professor Stephen Odebero accused ODM leadership of being insincere in addressing the grievances raised by Namwamba and other ODM legislators.

Reports by Rawlings Otieno, Luke Anami, John Mondoh, Olivia Odhambo, Ignatius Odanga and Moses Nyamori.

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