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13 ODM defectors brace for legal battles

POLITICS
By Rawlings Otieno | September 29th 2016

 

A protracted legal battle is looming between Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and 13 of its members facing disciplinary action.

The 13 are fighting to ensure that their names are not sent to the Registrar of Political parties for de-registration, a move that will send them back to the ballot box just 10 months before elections.

Already, the 13 have sought the services of lawyers Kioko Kilukumi and former Garsen MP Danson Mungatana to defend them against ODM's move.

Thursday, some of the affected leaders among them James Rege (Karachuonyo), Mpuru Aburi (Tigania East) and Isaac Mwaura (nominated) had mixed responses to the issues facing them.

Mr Rege maintained that he is a member of ODM in good standing and will continue being so till the end of the current Parliament before deciding, which party to join.

He clarified that at no point had he ever declared that he was not a member of ODM, and that he has been duly paying the party's subscription fee.

"I am a member of ODM in good standing until the next elections. I have been paying up my subscription dues as a member. I have the freedom of association and of saying anything," said Rege.

Although Rege maintained that he was yet to receive the show-cause letter from the party, he argued that he has minutes and the backing of his constituents that allow him to work with the Government and not Jubilee Party.

However, a defiant Mr Aburi dared the party to expel him and set a stage for a by-election.

Aburi said that he left the ODM party in 2013 and will not apologise to party leader Raila Odinga, adding that he (Raila) changed parties four times when he was an MP.

"By law, I am in ODM but my heart and body left ODM in 2013. I am ready for a by-election anytime. In fact they are getting late to conduct it," said the defiant Tigania East MP.

The MP said he was surprised when he got a call from a friend in Nairobi that a lawyer (Kilukumi) had responded to the show-cause letters written to him and 12 others.

"I have not received a letter from ODM but Thursday, I was called by someone in Nairobi that there is a lawyer who has responded on my behalf. I have been on the ground with my people," said Aburi.

If the threats by ODM are anything to go by, then the first by-election will be conducted in Tigania East.

His nominated counterpart, Isaac Mwaura, said he had not received any letter from ODM.

He explained that when he resolved to join the race to vie for Ruiru constituency on a Jubilee Party ticket, he respectfully went and told the party leader, Raila, of his intent.

"When I made up my mind to follow the verdict of the people of Ruiru that I run on a Jubilee ticket come 2017, I informed the party leader. I find it rather unfair and dishonest that I can be removed from Parliament. I ask Ruiru people to give me their votes as an elected and not nominated MP," said Mr Mwaura.

On Wednesday, Mr Kilukumi wrote to the party's secretary general on behalf of the 10 MPs, two governors and one deputy governor, challenging suggestions that they have defected from ODM.

In the letter, Kilukumi said the party must first exhaust its internal dispute resolution mechanism before sending the names to the Registrar of Political Parties.

The lawyer said his clients had only learnt from the media that the party had deemed them to have defected to another party under provisions of Section 14(5)C of the Political Parties Act.

"The said provisions apply to a person who has joined another party. A search in the register kept by the Registrar of Political Parties will show that our clients are not members of any other party, other than ODM," said Kilukumi.

"Our instructions are that our clients are members of the ODM. The register of members kept by the Registrar of Political Parties will confirm that," the letter read.

Kilukumi wrote that his clients are entitled to freedom of association and to make political choices under Article 36 and 38 of the Constitution.

A source within the Orange party told The Standard that the party was determined to ensure they exercise their choice to join another political party.

"We are aware of the said freedoms and rights and want to formalize them for them to have a smooth exit from the party," said the source.

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