Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday asked members of the party to avoid 2022 succession politics, a day after the party recommended the expulsion of two vocal MPs for backing Deputy President William Ruto’s State House bid.
Instead, Mr Odinga said the leaders should focus on building the party and supporting his March 9 truce with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mr Odinga made the comments when he met Coast Parliamentary Group chairman Suleiman Dori, who risks losing his seat if the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) ratifies the decision by the disciplinary committee to expel him after granting him a chance to plead his case.
Besides Mr Dori, others facing expulsion from ODM are Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and seven ward representatives — six from Homa Bay and one from Busia.
“Hon Odinga assured the leaders that those mentioned in the disciplinary committee report of ODM will be given a fair hearing by the National Executive Committee,” a statement from Mr Odinga’s team noted after the meeting at his Capitol Hill office in Nairobi.
Since the truce deal, Mr Odinga has attempted to woo back his lieutenants, especially in the Coast region, where Mr Ruto has placed a particular emphasis encouraging opposition MPs to join his 2022 presidential bid caravan.
To Mr Ruto and the MPs, the handshake allowed leaders to mingle freely on either side of the political divide, and none of them should be reprimanded for doing so. But ODM views this as disloyalty, punishable by expulsion from the party.
“Party discipline is paramount,” ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said in a statement after the NEC adopted the disciplinary committee’s report.
On Wednesday, Mr Dori, who was accompanied by Kilifi North MP Owen Baya and his Kisauni counterpart Ali Mbogo (Wiper), told Mr Odinga that they were ready to be guided.
“We assure you that we are available for regular consultations with, and guidance by, the party. “As you may have noticed, we have slowed down on 2022 campaigns as you had advised and we remain committed to actions that strengthen rather than weaken the party,” Mr Dori said.
In the meeting, a statement from Mr Odinga’s office said the MPs also expressed a similar commitment to work with Mr Odinga from Ms Jumwa, who is in Burundi for parliamentary games.
Mr Dori and Ms Jumwa have been very vocal in backing Mr Ruto’s 2022 bid, a stand the party says goes against its position, and so should be punished.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and a host of MPs from the Coast, on Wednesday, said that the reasons behind the recommendation to expel the MPs from the party should be made public.
“I want to understand the reasoning behind this decision because we have dealt with it very carefully,” Governor Kingi said.
Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire said: “I kindly beg the party to consider giving Ms Jumwa and Mr Dori another chance. I’m sure they are ready to comply.”
Mr Baya, who accompanied Mr Dori to the meeting with Mr Odinga, said the decision to kick the two out should be rescinded.
“ODM is known to champion democracy and democratic principles. Mr Odinga has for years earned accolades for championing the Bill of Rights and other fundamental rights,” he said.
Mr Odinga expressed anger at the Homa Bay County Assembly where the disciplinary committee has recommended the expulsion of ward representatives Dan Ochieng’ Were, Evans dada Marieba, Julius Odhiambo Gaya, Geoffrey Onyango Juma, Paul Ongoro Wamunga and Joshua Okumu Nyabola.
Also recommended for expulsion is Immaculate Joice Adhiambo from Busia.
ODM said the MCAs “have consistently defied the party’s counsel and conducted themselves in a manner that undermines the party’s standing”.