A political and legal showdown is looming in Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party after five members expelled by the party they will not go down without a fight.
The MPs, Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Tom Ojienda (Kisumu Senator), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Caroli Omondi (Suba South) and Phelix Odiwuor alias Jalang’o (Lang’ata), are bracing for a legal tussle with the party.
The political careers of two other legislators who survived the axe but were slapped with Sh1 million fines each, are also hanging by a thread should they fail to abide by the directive of the party. They include Rongo MP Paul Abuor and his Uriri counterpart Mark Nyamita.
Yesterday, however, the disgruntled legislators told The Standard that they will explore legal means away from the party’s structures and are bracing for a tough fight.
But as they plan to counter the move to expel them from the party, The Standard has established that the Orange party is also planning a major onslaught on their backyards to set ground for their replacements.
A senior ODM official told The Standard that the plan is both short term and long term and is tailored to weaken any support the disgruntled leaders have in their backyard.
According to the official, the party is ready for a by-election for all the seats of the affected MPs but is also bracing for a protracted legal fight which may scatter those plans until 2027 General Elections.
“We are ready for them. You cannot betray the party and expect to continue enjoying its fruits. We have soldiers who are ready to lead and take over their positions,” said the official.
Yesterday, Ochanda said he is ready to challenge the decision of the party but dismissed the prospects of appealing to the party’s internal organs.
A defiant Ochanda who read malice in his removal from the party claimed they had been anticipating the decision and are not surprised.
“We are going to explore different options. However, appealing to the next organ of the party may not be necessary,” he said.
He holds that he does not see anything wrong with what they did.
“If it is a matter of going to State House or meeting the president, all the other leaders have met the president including the party leader. I don’t see where the fault is,” he held.
He said he is already consulting his lawyers to determine their next cause of action.
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Nyamita and Abuor also claimed they do not know what the party expects them to apologise for. They claimed they also do not understand why they should pay the Sh1 million fine imposed on them.
“I am waiting see the letter which I hope will have the details of the reason why they arrived at the decision they did,” Nyamita said.
Abuor echoed the sentiments saying he was waiting for official communication from the party to know exactly what he was required to apologise for. “From there, I will see how it goes,” Abuor said.
The leaders maintained that it is not a crime to work with the government and claimed most ODM members have embraced the government.
Senator Ojienda also appears unmoved with the decision to kick him out of the party and has claimed he will not withdraw his support for President William Ruto’s regime.
Yesterday, the Senator, through his lawyers, wrote to the party to request for documents used in the proceedings that led to his expulsion.
Among the documents the Senator is seeking include the resolutions by the ODM National Executive Committee (NEC), the recommendations by the ODM Disciplinary Tribunal to expel him from the party as well as all the minutes of the meetings held by the party’s disciplinary organs.
The Standard has established the Senator intends to use the documents to mount a legal challenge.
In a tweet, a defiant Ojienda said that he will not apologise to the party.
“I have no apology and will continue to work with the president,” said Ojienda.
The turn of events has split observers. While some claim the move by ODM could result into by-elections, others believe it is an exercise in futility and that the expelled members will finish their term in office as ODM members.
According to political analyst Dr Barrack Muluka, the exercise conducted by ODM is a waste of time.
Muluka likened the party’s move to someone using a razor blade to cut a ‘mugumo’ tree.
He says it will take a long process that could take about four years to conclude and will rule out any chances of a by-election.
He points out that removing the MPs from their seats would be hard because of the superiority of the constitution.
He cited Article 32 of the constitution which states “Every person has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion”.
Constitutional lawyers Bruce Odeny and Otieno Ragot, however, argue there is a likelihood the process will end up in a by-election.
According to Odeny, although the process should culminate into a by-election, the chances of that prospect maturing is slim because of the ongoing Bi-partisan talks.
“Looking at the mood of the country now, I don’t see it going further than what we have,” Mr Odeny said.
The lawyer foresees the five MPs expelled from ODM party moving to court to preserve their rights.
In the last couple of weeks, political jostling for the seats held by the troubled MPs has hit fever-pitch despite the fact that it is not a campaign period.
In Suba South, ODM chairman John Mbadi has already declared his intentions to recapture the seat and has vowed to kick Caroli out.
A similar development is also taking place in Gem, where a group of leaders have already embarked on a quest to unseat Elisha Odhiambo. The ODM camp considers Odhiambo a rebel for working with Kenya Kwanza and are keen to kick him out.
Those lining up to remove Odhiambo include Kisumu City Manager Abala Wanga, a Senate aspirant Julius Okinda as well as businessman Otieno Rading.