ODM rebel MPs score win as tribunal stops their expulsion

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]

Rebel Orange Democratic Movement legislators won the first battle to keep their seats after a tribunal suspended the party’s decision to expel them. Political Parties Dispute Tribunal chairperson Desma Nungo issued the orders stopping ODM from implementing the decision to expel the five MPs pending determination of suits filed challenging the expulsion.

“Pending the hearing and determination of the suits, the office of the Registar of Political Parties is barred from effecting and enforcing the decision of ODM by removing the complainants as members of the party,” ruled Nungo.

Among those the tribunal saved are Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda, Lang’ata MP Felix Odiwuor Jalang’o, Suba MP Caroli Omondi, Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda and Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo.

The five MPs were last week expelled by the ODM’s National Executive Committee for going against the party’s wishes by cooperating and working with President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Government. However, Prof Ojienda in his affidavit swore that he was not accorded a fair hearing by the party’s disciplinary committee and denied claims that he betrayed the party by working with the government.

According to the Kisumu Senator, he has remained a committed member of ODM, supported the party both financially and materially, and has done nothing wrong by seeking to fulfil the wishes of his electorate.

“I have actively pursued the interest of the people of Kisumu who elected me only to be subjected to a flawed and pre-determined disciplinary process. They have not even given me the reasons for my expulsion as required,” said Ojienda.

He added that the decision to expel him was premature and cannot be implemented given that he was never summoned to appear before the disciplinary committee to answer to the charges of misconduct.

Ojienda further claimed that ODM’s disciplinary committee was illegally chaired by Prof Ben Sihanya who had been barred from holding any position in political parties. Jalang’o, in his affidavit, stated that he was shocked when the party issued a presser on the decision to expel him without informing him in advance as required by the party’s rules.

“It is astounding that while this is a decision that affects me adversely personally, all that I know as regards this decision is the presser and newspaper cuttings informing the general public of such decision,” swore the Lang’ata MP.

He claimed that the allegations raised against him were different from the ones he was confronted with when he appeared before the disciplinary committee.

The legislators claimed that they fear the Registrar of Political Parties will move to implement the party’s decision following pressure from party leader Raila Odinga that they be de-whipped from positions they hold in Parliament.

“We fear that our names will be removed from the Registrar of Political Parties and we end up losing our seats as a result of a flawed and pre-determined disciplinary process which resulted to the illegal decision to expel us.”

The tribunal directed the MPs to serve ODM with the applications within two days for them to respond before the hearing on September 26.