ODM disciplinary committee to decide fate of rebel MPs

A section of ODM MPs Elisha Odhiambo, Jalango, Paul Aburo and Caroli Omondi after addressing the media over their tribulations at Parliament buildings on March 17, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The fate of eight Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) renegade lawmakers lies in the hands of the disciplinary committee that has retreated to write their decision after a two-day hearing.

The second batch of legislators accused of party indiscipline on Tuesday faced the Prof Ben Sihanya-led committee in a day-long closed-door session.

Among those who defended themselves on the second day are MPs Felix Odiwuor, alias Jalang'o (Lang'ata), Paul Abuor (Rongo), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo) and Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda.

Earlier, Prof Ojienda's lawyer Nelson Havi was denied entry into the committee's session at a Nairobi hotel as he is not an ODM member as required by the party constitution. Lawyers representing clients in such proceedings ordinarily belong to the said parties.

The first group had their day on Monday, where they faced charges of defying the party's position and for aligning with President William Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

They included Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris, MPs Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Mark Nyamita (Uriri) and Caroli Omondi (Suba South).

The eight face charges of violating the Constitution by contravening the Political Parties Act, which stipulates that a member of a party who promotes the ideology of another is deemed to have resigned from the said party.

Migori Senator Edwin Oketch, the complainant, accused the leaders of promoting the ideology of another party and hence betraying public trust, and gross misconduct.

Passaris, who attended the proceedings virtually, is accused of defying the Azimo la Umoja-One Kenya position by voting in favour of the contentious Finance Bill 2023.

The other seven have openly sided with the president, meeting him and other government officials on different occasions. Further, they have sided with Kenya Kwanza Alliance MPs during voting on crucial matters in Parliament.

The legislators have previously defended their association with the president as constitutionally guaranteed, arguing that they had not defected from ODM as they still pay their monthly statutory deductions.

If found guilty, the lawmakers stand to lose their seats. Still, such an eventuality is unlikely owing to the tedious appeal mechanisms that have frustrated precious bids by parties to rein in rebel members.

ODM has had its share of unsuccessful attempts to strip renegades of the parties members, with cases against some dragging for years in courts.

They include ODM's futile attempt to have Aisha Jumwa, then as Malindi MP, removed from office for her open association with Ruto.