Raila moves to rein in errant ODM members

ODM leader Raila Odinga. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has moved to stem the increasing influence of the majority party Kenya Kwanza into the minority benches by expelling members sympathetic to President William Ruto’s cause.

The ODM National Executive Council (NEC) Wednesday gave the green light for the removal of five rebel MPs. The decision was adopted at a NEC meeting attended by Raila and chaired by nominated MP John Mbadi in Nairobi.

Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo, Suba South’s Caroli Omondi, Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Tom Ojienda (Senator of Kisumu) and Phelix Odiwuor alias Jalang’o (Lang’ata) are no longer members of the party.

The grounds given for their expulsion is advancing the interest of rival political outfits.

Jalang’o had in July pleaded with President William Ruto to intervene and save him from expulsion after he engaged in friendly gestures with him including accompanying other ODM MPs to pay him a courtesy call at State House. 

On Wednesday, Ojienda took to Twitter to say he has no apologies to make.

“My Party has today expelled me for working with HE President William Ruto. I have no apology and will continue to work with the President,” posted Ojienda.

The condemned MPs met with President William Ruto on Tuesday, February 7 at State House, Nairobi

“I know you are a friend to Baba (Raila Odinga) and you guys talk. Please talk to him because looking at others who are facing similar charges, the likes of Ojienda, who happens to be a lawyer. Jamani wasinimalize kama uko,” Jalango said in Homabay during the homecoming ceremony of Internal Security Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo.

Jalango has said he will not stop working with the president despite being a member of ODM.

“Our resolve to work with HE William Ruto was not a gimmick! We will support the president and we must support the president!” he tweeted in defiance a month ago.

Apology and fine

Some of the lawmakers, however, survived the axe after being asked to pay fines and apologise to the party.

Uriri MP Mark Nyamita and Paul Abuor (Rongo), who faced similar accusations before the committee, were reprimanded and directed to issue a written apology within seven days.

They are also expected to each pay a fine of Sh1 million to the party within 60 days.

Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris was punished following her decision to support the controversial Finance Bill 2023 bill that has since been enacted into law.

The party directed her to apologise and pay a fine of Sh250,000. 

The NEC also recommended the revocation of the nominations of four Members of the Kisumu County Assembly. Caroline Opar, Kennedy Ajwang’, Peter Obaso and Regina Kizito were accused of gross misconduct. They are said to have supported a candidate of a rival party for the position of Kisumu Assembly Speaker which was against the position of the party.

 “Members facing allegations of violation of Article 11 (1) (e) of the party constitution and section 14A of the Political Parties Act 2011 by openly associating with and supporting activities of rival political parties and opposed lawful decisions made by the party organs, be deemed to have resigned from the party,” Mbadi said after NEC settled on expelling the five MPs

“The party is hereby directed to commence the process of removing them from the register of the party,” he added.

The decision comes barely a month after the rebels were summoned by the disciplinary committee of the party chaired by Prof Ben Sihanya to defend themselves from accusations of gross misconduct and associating with a rival political party.

Early this year Migori Senator Eddy Oketch wrote to ODM pushing to have the MPs deregistered accusing them of being disloyal to the party.

First expulsion

This however is not the first time ODM has expelled its members.

Back in 2018 the then Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa who is now Cabinet Secretary for Gender was among the lawmakers the party decided to drop. The party’s efforts were unsuccessful owing to sins of omission on key statutory procedures. 

Her expulsion was nullified by the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal arguing that the disciplinary committee was not properly constituted.

Barring the Registrar of Political Parties from removing her name from the ODM membership the party was also accused of failing to produce before the tribunal, documents showing details of the disciplinary committee members who grilled the MP. ODM’s expelled members now have a right to file an appeal to the party’s National Governing Council contesting their expulsion.