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Obado impeachment in limbo as ODM tries to whip troops

Migori Governor Okoth Obado.

ODM leader Raila Odinga is facing a huge political headache in the impeachment motion against Migori Governor Okoth Obado.

Reports of divided Members of County Assembly (MCAs) and delays by ODM to table the motion point to a bitter duel pitting the county boss against his party.

It has emerged that a few MCAs are sympathetic with Obado’s plight despite being whipped into endorsing the motion.

Talk of a union between Obado and Deputy President William Ruto has also turned the impeachment into a do-or-die contest for control of the region ahead of the 2022 General Election.

This is not the first time Obado is getting into the ring with ODM. In the 2013 elections, he floored the party and rode to victory on the little known People’s Democratic Party despite ODM’s stranglehold in Nyanza.

Sources said this latest delay was necessary to allow ODM win over MCAs to back the motion and avoid the embarrassment of losing the vote. But the party yesterday dismissed reports that it has failed to rally MCAs to kick Obado from office.

ODM chairman John Mbadi said the party has the numbers to oust the governor, who is facing graft and murder charges. The party has 41 MCAs out of 57 ward representatives in the assembly.

Mbadi said that MCAs from smaller parties and independents had voiced support to impeach the governor. The party requires 19 members to table the motion and at least 38 MCAs to win the impeachment vote.

“When we met in Migori, apart from our members who have overwhelmingly endorsed the impeachment plan, we had five MCAs who joined us and declared support,” said Mbadi.

Compiling evidence

During a meeting of over 600 party delegates from the county at Maranatha Grounds, Mbadi had said that the motion would be tabled by last week Thursday. When this failed to take place, it triggered debate whether ODM was having trouble kicking out the governor.

But Mbadi said they had been compiling evidence before tabling the motion, adding that impeachment was a process that did not happen in a day.

“The motion is ready and the leader of majority is expected to table it by Tuesday. You cannot take the motion to the assembly without putting together the documents supporting the impeachment.”

Sources privy to the assembly’s affairs, however, confided to The Standard on Sunday that there was still apprehension between MCAs allied to the governor and those who want to kick him out.

They said there was a reluctance to expedite the process, with dilly-dallying tactics being employed in an attempt to derail the process.

Speaker Boaz Okoth issued a personal statement last week where he claimed that county politics and especially the governor’s succession agenda had ‘permeated’ into the House.

Mr Okoth made the remarks after a few members of his security detail were withdrawn. His house in Nyikendo was later attacked by unknown criminals.

The Speaker said he was perturbed by the incident and chose to adjourn the House on the grounds that he was not feeling well and the incidence had scared him. At the time, he was yet to receive the impeachment motion.

During a previous interview, Majority Leader Ken Ouma and Muhuru MCA Hevron Mahira said they were in the process of drafting the motion.

“We want people to be patient. We have started the process that is likely to conclude by next week,” said Mr Ouma.

This week, the Assembly has been busy with other business in its order paper in sessions presided over by Deputy Speaker Mathews Chacha.

Obado has vowed to fight the ouster bid, terming the decision as ‘harsh and rushed’. He is the first ODM governor to be barred from accessing his office by the court after facing Sh73 million graft charges, and is out on bail.

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said that Article 181 of the Constitution provides express grounds for the removal of a governor.

The reasons include: gross violation of the Constitution or any other law, or where there are serious reasons to believe that the county governor has committed a crime under the national law or abuse of office or gross misconduct.

Removal procedure

“This is what ODM used to initiate Obado’s impeachment process,’’ Sifuna told The Standard on Sunday, adding that the Tenth Parliament gave powers to MCAs by incorporating the procedures in the County Governments Act.

Section 33 of the County Governments Act contains the procedure for the removal of a governor where the ward representatives are charged with the task to move a motion to impeach the county boss.

For this to happen, an MCA must move a motion to remove a governor by notice to the Speaker. If the motion goes through, the County Assembly Speaker informs the Speaker of the Senate within two days in writing and refers to the county assembly resolution passed to impeach the governor.