ODM MPs want Ruto to face party discipline

Thursday August 12 2010

ODM party members from left James Orengo, Danson Mwazo, Dhadho Godhana and Margaret Wanjiru chat at the party's headquarters after a parliamentary group meeting on Thursday. PHOTO/HEZRON NJOROGE

ODM party members from left James Orengo, Danson Mwazo, Dhadho Godhana and Margaret Wanjiru chat at the party's headquarters after a parliamentary group meeting on Thursday. PHOTO/HEZRON NJOROGE  

By DAVE OPIYO [email protected] and BERNARD NAMUNANE [email protected]

Higher Education minister William Ruto is to be disciplined by his party for campaigning against the constitution.

All Orange Democratic Movement members of Parliament who were in the Red camp will face party sanctions, an ODM Parliamentary Group meeting resolved on Thursday.

As a first step, they will be kept out of the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee, a powerful new team which will have a role in the implementation of the new Constitution.

Mr Ruto and his Chepalungu counterpart, Mr Isaac Ruto, are members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the constitution, which oversaw the writing of the constitution.

Mr Ruto and his allies did not attend Thursday’s meeting, chaired by party chairman Henry Kosgey.

Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, the Parliamentary Group Secretary, read the terse statement after a four-hour meeting at Orange House.

“The party will take strong disciplinary action against any Member of Parliament who took a contrary decision on an important policy decision like the adoption of the Constitution,” he said.

There is debate in the ruling coalition on what to do with members who campaigned against the draft in the referendum, contrary to the wishes of the government and their parties.

In 2005, President Kibaki sacked Liberal Democratic Party members who had joined Kanu to deliver a crushing defeat to the government during that year’s referendum. They made use of their popularity to build ODM.

The so-called rebels, Mr Isaac Ruto and Mr Charles Keter, were however defiant, warning that the ODM was now on the “path of democratic darkness, reminiscent of the Kanu days”. They would not be intimidated into changing their stand, they said, and invited the party to take whatever action it saw fit.

“They should do it as soon as possible because what they are saying is irrelevant. They have forgotten what befell some of them in 2005 when they were kicked out of the Cabinet and parliamentary committees by President Kibaki,” said Mr Keter.

ODM secretary-general Anyang’ Nyong’o declared that rebel MPs would not enjoy the same status they did before the referendum. Like a naughty child, he said, they would be disciplined.

“It would be highly unlikely that a person facing disciplinary action can at the same time enjoy the same status he enjoyed before in being appointed to such a committee. If you spare the rod, you spoil the child,” he said.

Some of the MPs who attended the party meeting said there were calls for Mr Ruto to be stripped of his Cabinet post and for the job to go to a more loyal MP, such as Eldoret East MP Margaret Kamar.

It was also suggested that dissenting MPs be kicked out of party positions. The recommendations of the meeting will now be taken to the National Executive Council (NEC), the party’s top organ.

Former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru, who was in the ‘No’ camp attended the meeting and defended her stand, saying she could not go against the Church. Ms Wanjiru is a bishop and a preacher.

MPs said some members have threatened to campaign against her if she wins the party’s ticket to fight for re-election.

The meeting floated the names of ODM members to the Constitution Oversight Committee. They proposed that it be made up of 27 members, 14 of them being from ODM. One of the suggestions was that Agriculture minister Sally Kosgei should replace Mr Ruto.

Other names suggested were Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, Cabinet minister James Orengo, assistant minister Joseph Nkaiserry and MPs Millie Odhiambo and Sophia Abdi.

Mr Keter and Mr Ruto asked the MPs not to repeat the mistakes other parties have made in the face of differences. The Belgut MP said they will fully participate in the debate on Bills in the House regardless of whether they were named to committees or not.

“Nobody has asked to be included in those committees. The Bills will come to the House and we will debate them,” he said.