Premium

To leave, or not: ODM expulsion and the effect on rebels' future

History, marked by similar conflicts between the party and former allies, does not bode well for these five individuals. Their future appears uncertain as they seek to fend off ODM's attempts to dismantle their political careers.

Unrivalled support

In Nyanza, where the party enjoys nearly unrivalled support, few leaders have shown a willingness to challenge ODM recently, and fewer still have succeeded.

ODM has nurtured and dashed numerous political careers since its inception 18 years ago. Raila's party stands out as one of the few political entities that have weathered the storm of realignments, maintaining substantial support in most parts of the country.

While some leaders who disagreed with Raila's party have witnessed their careers fade into obscurity, particularly in Luo Nyanza, others have been fortunate enough to realign themselves with the government and rejuvenate their careers through state appointments.

However, this trend now faces an ultimate test in the wake of last week's decision by the party to expel the five MPs.

According to observers, the decision to expel the members could potentially spell doom for the political careers of the five MPs, considering the significant support that the party enjoys in Nyanza.

ODM dominance

On the other hand, allies of the embattled lawmakers believe their expulsion might mark the start of the end of ODM's dominance in the region, should these leaders successfully stage a comeback and align themselves with anti-ODM forces in the area.

Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority board chair Edick Anyanga. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

However, whether the embattled MPs will seek refuge in the president's camp remains uncertain. They all maintain their innocence and have pledged to fight for their right to remain in the party.

Observers believe this conflict could potentially escalate to the Supreme Court but also anticipate the possibility of a weakened ODM due to these disputes.

According to constitutional lawyer Wilfred Nderitu, the leaders can survive.

"I don't believe this is a matter that anyone will accept passively. I anticipate it will escalate to the Supreme Court," he said, adding that it would be challenging for ODM to achieve its objectives.

"The party may not possess the same strength as it once did. It could be somewhat challenging for the party to attain its goals," Nderitu said. Nevertheless, the MPs remain resolute amid these controversies and have pledged to contest the party's decision.

Emerging victorious

According to Ochanda, they are gearing up for a legal battle to contest the party's decision to expel them.

"Since February, the party ceased communication with us. If the party stopped enforcing party discipline, what's wrong with taking the stance we've adopted?" Ochanda said.

Allies of these leaders conveyed to The Standard their optimism about emerging victorious. "The reality is that no one is eager for a by-election at this moment. These leaders have been fulfilling their duties effectively, and their disagreements with the party should not hinder their work," one lawmaker said.

According to political analyst Bruce Odeny, the ongoing dialogue between Raila's camp and the government could save the MPs.

(Additional reporting by Anne Atieno)