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ODM seeks to tighten grip on Vihiga assembly amid wrangles

Politics
 Vihiga County Assembly in session on May 16, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party has moved to avert attempts by Amani National Congress (ANC) to take over Vihiga assembly leadership.

The party is under threat of being edged out as the majority in the House after leadership wrangles erupted over members' numbers in the House.

Some ward representatives allied to Azimio have threatened to cross to Kenya Kwanza, the minority side in the House, causing confusion.

During last Tuesday's session, Kenya Kwanza declared themselves the majority after they won the support of several Azimio MCAs.

The leader of the Minority in the Assembly, Vincent Atsiaya through a motion tabled in the House asked Speaker Christopher Omulele to declare Kenya Kwanza as the majority a move that could necessitate leadership changes.

Atsiaya who was elected on ANC ticket, through a motion tabled in the House noted that the Kenya Kwanza Alliance had achieved a majority of 23 members out of the total 36 members in the assembly. 

This means that the Azimio only commands 13 members in the House. To tighten their grip on the assembly leadership, over the weekend ODM held a meeting that brought together all Azimio MCAs save for those who have shifted their allegiance to Kenya Kwanza. 

ODM through Senator Godfrey Osotsi summoned the majority of MCAs in Kisumu where they laid strategies to win back the rebels.

Osotsi is said to have warned those shifting sides that they risk losing their seats by triggering a by-election in their respective wards. "We have talked to our MCAs and made them to understand that moving on the other side could trigger a by-election," he said after the four-hour-long meeting with Azimio ward representatives.

The Vihiga senator further told MCAs who have shifted allegiance to Kenya Kwanza to remember that they are legally bound by the political party's agreement to stay in Azimio.

Osotsi blamed the Vihiga county assembly leadership wrangles on dark forces out to kill devolution.

"The Speaker cannot rule otherwise because the party members who have joined the other side are still in active agreement with Azimio," he said. 

'The dark forces want to create trouble and confusion in the county assembly and kill oversight," he added.

The senator urged MCAs to focus on their oversight role for the benefit of the people and shun wrangles driven by self-interests.

"The MCAs should not give a chance to the people who want to kill devolution and oversight by hiding behind Kenya Kwanza and Azimio," said Osotsi.

The closed-door meeting was chaired by the senator an ally of ODM leader Raila Odinga and attended by Majority Leader Karega Mboku who laughed off the Kenya Kwanza claims of the majority terming it an attempt to actualise an illegal takeover.

Mboku maintained that ODM was the majority party in the House and that it will not cede ground to ANC.

"The minority ANC party has only 11 members and there is no way we can force the Speaker to declare them the majority side," he said.

Through ODM party leadership, they have written a letter to the Speaker with the intent to show that they are still the majority as they await a ruling on the Kenya Kwanza motion on March 5.

Some of the MCAs who have shifted allegiance to Kenya Kwanza are Collins Ayugu of Banja who was elected on the ODM ticket. 

Ayugu who has been an ODM strongman announced that he had fallen out with the party after he was served with a show-course letter on why he shouldn't be expelled.

He is currently facing disciplinary action from ODM after he was summoned over his conduct and working with the Kenya Kwanza government. 

Others are; David Onjiri (Luanda township) who was elected on DAP-K party and Richard Muhiga (Shamakhokho) elected on the United Democratic Party.

Nkuruma Avudiku (Izava Lwaduywa), Frankline Gidali (West Sabatia) and Boniface Shanga (Muhudu) elected as independent have also shifted allegiance to Kenya Kwanza.  

The Orange party clinched the governor and senator seats in Vihiga. 

ODM also bagged 10 ward seats out of 25 to become the majority party in the assembly.

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