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Orange Democratic Movement split over party 'hoppers' and 'rebels'

POLITICS
By Rawlings Otieno | August 11th 2015
ODM Chairman John Mbadi brief the media during the party' s strategic meeting retreat at Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos on Sunday 19/04/15.PHOTO.BONIFACE OKENDO

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is looking into ways of stemming a possible fallout over its handling of ‘party hoppers’ and “rebels” in the upcoming grassroots polls.

A 12-member Central Management Committee (CMC) met yesterday for close to seven hours to try and break the impasse on whether those who defected after primaries in the run-up to the 2013 General Election but have returned to the party should be allowed to contest party’s posts.

Both party chairman John Mbadi (pictured) and Director of Campaigns Junet Mohamed have publicly taken different stands on the matter. Secretary General Ababu Namwamba has also backed opening the room for the ‘rebels’ and ‘party hoppers’ to contest in the elections to heal the rifts in the party.

Sources privy to the talks told The Standard that the CMC had agreed to allow the defectors to contest in the polls. However, the matter will be determined by the party’s National Executive Council (NEC), which meets this morning to receive the report of the ad hoc committee.

NEC mandated CMC to establish whether party ‘hoppers’ and ‘rebels’ should be allowed to contest in the upcoming ODM elections and to make recommendations to NEC. It was not immediately established what the CMC further proposed in its report.

The ad hoc committee comprises party leader Raila Odinga as chair, his two deputies Wycliffe Oparanya and Hassan Joho, Mbadi, Namwamba, Organising Secretary, Political Affairs Secretary, a representative for both women and youth and ODM Executive Director Oduor Ong’wen.

While some have maintained the hard-line position that the rebels must be locked out until their loyalty to the party is scrutinised, others are of the opinion that Namwamba’s slogan ‘Gather all scatter none’ should be adopted. Yesterday, Mbadi told The Standard they will meet today and make the party’s final decision on the matter.

 PARTY’S CONSTITUTION

Migori Parliamentary Group Chairman Omondi Anyanga, however, insisted ODM must be a party that respects its own constitution and there should be no compromise if the constitution does not allow room for party ‘hoppers’.

Anyanga maintained the party leader has been categorical that party ‘hoppers’ can only be given the opportunity to participate in the polls if they have stayed in the party for at least 12 months.

“When elections are far away, they are in other parties but now that elections are near, they want to rejoin the party and seek elections. We welcome them to join our party but regulations must be followed,” said Anyanga.

Simba Arati (Dagoretti North) called for caution in dealing with the defectors. He said care must be taken to confirm from the registrar of Political Parties and establish if such members have resigned and their names struck off from the register before being allowed to take part in future ODM elections. “If we allow them without finding out if they have resigned, we might end up losing them again if someone goes to court to challenge their membership,” said Arati.

But Opondo Kaluma (Homa Bay) differed with his colleagues, arguing that parties exist to attract members and voters but not to lock them out. According to Kaluma, even though the issue will require amending the party’s constitution, the ‘rebels’ should be allowed to rejoin and participate in its processes. “Parties exist to attract members and voters, not to lock them out,” he said.

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