ACK Bishop attacks ODM, threatens to lead rebellion against it

Anglican Church of Kenya in Southern Nyanza Bishop James Ochiel (second from left) addressing journalists at a Homa Bay town hotel. [Photo by James Omoro/Standard]

An Anglican Church bishop has, for the second time, hit out at Opposition leader Raila Odinga's party, accusing it of imposing leaders in Nyanza region.

Two weeks ago, James Ochiel of Southern Nyanza Diocese blamed the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) for impoverishing the region, eliciting angry reactions from Raila's supporters.

On Wednesday, Bishop Ochiel threatened to mobilise his congregation to boycott future ODM nominations if the party did not institute radical changes in its politics in the region.

He also accused ODM of stifling democracy in the region by fighting its critics, and said the party was imposing candidates on the electorate.

Ochiel received flak from ODM Secretary for Political Affairs and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, who dismissed the claims and dared the bishop to leave the pulpit and start his own political party to rival ODM.

Yesterday, Ochiel was at it again, saying that as a church leader, he was obliged to point out mistakes in the community's leadership to help spur development.

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He vowed to start campaigns against leaders who showed more allegiance to the party than to the people.

"I will campaign against political candidates imposed on the people by ODM ahead of the 2022 General Election," he told journalists in his office on Wednesday.

The bishop also threatened to rally church followers against ODM.

“We might be forced to tell voters to boycott elections just as ODM rallied its supporters to boycott the repeat presidential elections on October 26 last year," he said.

The bishop said he would not to relent in criticising ODM for imposing non-performing leaders on the electorate at the expense of development.

“Leaders who are imposed on the people knows only their political party. They therefore decide to serve the interests of the party rather than the voters,” said Ochiel.

“We don’t want political candidates who hang onto the coats of others to ascend to power,” he said.

Homa Bay MP Peter Kaluma accused the bishop of speaking out of ignorance.

The MP said elected leaders in the area were voted in at the ballot box and not picked by ODM party as claimed by the bishop.

“The bishop is wrong. ODM does not vote for political candidates. Voters are to blame if any elected leader makes mistakes, not the party,” said Mr Kaluma.