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Tough task for new ODM elections board

By Rushdie Oudia | April 17th 2016
Chaotic Scenes during the ODM elections at Safaricom Indoor arena in Kasarani. [PHOTO: FILE/ STANDARD]

Elected leaders who defected from ODM have said only free, fair and transparent nominations will hold the party together.

The leaders who walked out of the party after the chaotic primaries ahead of the 2013 elections welcomed the decision to dissolve the ODM National Elections Board (NEB) but argued that more needs to be done to ensure popular candidates are nominated.

Last week, the Orange party moved to put its house in order.

Dissolution of the board is part of strategies to restructure the party elections and restore confidence among supporters.

This is also aimed at ensuring the party gets majority elected leaders in the National Assembly, Senate and county assemblies. The strategies are resolutions of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at Maanzoni Ranch in Machakos County under the leadership of the ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The dissolution of the board which was chaired by Judith Pareno, came after constant criticism of the party leadership following chaotic nominations that have led to fall out and defections.

However, ODM defended the decision saying the board was not sent home because of incompetence.

Party Secretary General Ababu Namwamba called for change from the past, for the proposed reforms to ensure credible nominations.

“The English say the devil is in the detail! How we reconstitute the NEB, what character of men and women are picked to serve will show ODM has turned the corner,” Mr Namwamba told The Standard on Sunday.

He added: “It is a mission we can ill afford to abort. My commitment to this internal reform mission is unflinching and unequivocal.”

The Budalang’i MP revealed plans for a new, leaner and more professional board and nomination framework.

Namwamba admitted that successive election boards have been a disappointment and that the challenge is systemic and institutional.

He indicated that the party will now grapple with putting up mechanisms to constitute a board that is above board and water tight. “Those who will be appointed to the board will be akin to Ceazar’s wife without any dirt, beyond reproach or blemishes,” said Namwamba.

He said it will be hypocritical to call for disbandment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and not carry out electoral reforms within the party.

“We will not also allow the party officials to interfere with the constitution of the board as we want to restore confidence among members and supporters too,” said Namwamba.

Raila stated that the decision to disband the board followed recommendations of a report by Jotham Nyukuri led Task Force. The team called for reduction of Commissioners from nine to five among others.

The task force recommended that only Commissioner Pareno be retained for institutional memory. She will be joined by four new commissioners.

Some leaders who defected but have shown indications that they will be returning to ODM have called for issuance of party tickets to deserving candidates. Migori Governor Okoth Obado who clinched the position on a People Democratic Party (PDP) ticket after chaotic ODM nominations said the party should not impose leaders on the electorate.

“It does not matter what strategies ODM has put in place, what we want is an assurance that the party will carry out a transparent and credible nominations and that the rightful winner who was popularly elected is given the certificate,” he said.

Kisumu West MP John Olago Aluoch who defected to Ford Kenya concurred with Mr Obado and asked ODM to respect the people’s choice in the primaries.

He however, has a problem with the requirement of loyalty to the party which he said can be subjective and abused to deny those who deserve the ODM ticket.

“It should not be perceived that you are not loyal simply because you differed with the party leadership but it should be measured as who the members of the party would wish to lead them and am sure if you are not loyal to the party not even supporters would vote for you,” said Mr Olago

Mr Olago noted that the board has been reporting to the top party hierarchy which appointed it and this has been a recipe for chaos.

“The board will be independent and trusted if all the members elected it as opposed to being appointed by the party’s top organ,” he said.

Political commentator Adams Oloo said the independence of the elections board will ensure credible nominations.

He said the board should have integrity and with members who have experience in managing elections.

“What ODM has been doing is having politicians on the elections board, this should not be allowed. The board should comprise professionals with experience in managing elections,” said Dr Oloo.

He stated that the party has realised it does not have the capacity to conduct the party primaries in one day and therefore should stagger the exercise.

Oloo also warned the party against awarding certificates to those who did not win in the primaries as this has been a recipe for chaos and defections that affect the presidential vote.

He advised those who defected however, to return to ODM and participate all party activities including the nominations.

“It is in the interest of defectors that they rejoin ODM to retain their seats. You can only be voted by another party after it is clear you were short changed and that is the only way you will have a protest vote,” said Oloo.

And Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi was tasked by the NEC to reconcile ODM branches where disagreements and violence  occurred during the grassroots elections in Migori, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kwale, Nyamira, Nakuru, Kisii.

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