Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Raila to defend top seat in ODM polls

Orange Democratic Movement secretary general Anyang Nyong'o Right, party leader Raila Odinga (centre) and other party members address the press after a closed-door meeting at Orange headquarters in Nairobi on January 7, 2013. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI

Orange Democratic Movement secretary general Anyang Nyong'o Right, party leader Raila Odinga (centre) and other party members address the press after a closed-door meeting at Orange headquarters in Nairobi on January 7, 2013. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI 

By LUCAS BARASA
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By BEVERLY NDEGE
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Cord leader Raila Odinga is among party bigwigs who will be defending their seats when ODM holds its elections to fill 26 positions next month.

More than 4,600 delegates will elect new national party officials during a conference to be held at the Safaricom Stadium Kasarani, from February 28 to March 1, the party said Tuesday after its National Executive Committee meeting at Orange House, Nairobi.

Under the ODM constitution, the party leader becomes its automatic presidential candidate in case of elections.

“Mr Odinga is running. You can take that to the bank,” said an MP close to Mr Odinga, who requested not be named.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho will be seeking the post of Deputy Party Leader while former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende and Funyula MP Paul Otuoma will be gunning for the chairman’s position, currently held by former Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey.

There have been calls for Mr Odinga, who turned 69 Tuesday, to hand over the party leadership to younger leaders.

But the former Prime Minister, who lost to President Uhuru Kenyatta in the March 4, 2013 election, Tuesday said he would be holding consultations with other party leaders on whether to defend his post.

Doing so would be an indication that he is prepared to take a fourth stab at the presidency in 2017.

Jubilee leaders, including Majority Leader Aden Duale, have in the past asked Mr Odinga to retire from politics so that he can earn his pension after serving in various capacities, including as MP for Lang’ata and Prime Minister in the Grand Coalition government whose tenure ended in March last year.

So far, no challenger has emerged for the Party Leader’s post. However, the vice-chair position has attracted the highest number of candidates.

Parliamentary Investment Committee chairman Adan Keynan will battle it out with fellow MPs Manson Nyamweya, Millie Odhiambo and Dalmas Otieno; Senators Otieno Kajwang’ and Janet Ong’era; and governors Evans Kidero and Josephat Nanok.

Senators Agnes Nzani, Elizabeth Ongoro, James Orengo and MPs Nicholas Gumbo, John Mbadi, Ababu Namwamba, Ken Obura and Mr Joseph Chepkwony will be seeking the post of secretary general.

Incumbent Anyang’ Nyong’o said he was still consulting after being away for some time but sources said he would most likely not defend his seat.
He has been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

ORGANISING SECRETARY

MPs Abdikadir Aden, Simon Ogari, Timothy Bosire and Omondi Anyanga will be seeking the post of party treasurer while former Nairobi mayor George Aladwa and MPs Junet Mohammed and Opiyo Wandai will be gunning for organising secretary.

All posts are filled during the National Delegates Conference, attended by MPs and senators, governors and their deputies, 20 members from each county, eight executive members from sub-branches, 20 women and a similar number of youth representatives.

Interested candidates have been asked to register with the party’s National Election Board chaired by former Cabinet minister Franklin Bett.

Prof Nyong’o, the secretary-general urged aspirants to steer away from divisive politics. He warned that malpractices such as bribery and incitement would lead to automatic disqualification.

Senator Ongoro said: “This party should be made up of the young and old as well as women.”

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