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Raila fights to reverse Wetang’ula removal

Thursday March 22 2018

IBRAHIM ORUKO
By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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Opposition leader Raila Odinga is on Thursday expected to chair a meeting of opposition senators, two days after they defied him and replaced Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula with James Orengo as Senate minority leader.

The meeting is being seen as a last-ditch effort to reverse the vote that removed Mr Wetang’ula against Mr Odinga’s wishes.

It comes at a time when the National Super Alliance (Nasa) has been hit by internal squabbles following the striking of a unity deal between Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 9.

Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement has recently moved to assert itself as the superior partner, much to the fury of Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress, Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper party and Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya.

DIALOGUE
It is not clear whether Mr Odinga will be joined by his three Nasa principals at the meeting.

Ford Kenya, ANC and Wiper held their National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings on Tuesday to discuss the future of the coalition.

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The three parties have vowed to review their relationships with ODM and have proposed the formation of a Nasa alliance to take over as the official opposition.

While Ford Kenya’s NEC threatened to have ODM stripped of its parliamentary leadership positions, ANC termed the Kenyatta-Odinga deal a “personality cult” and called for an all-inclusive dialogue, while also vowing to remain firm in the opposition “as everyone else joins the government”.

Ford Kenya said it will support the deal “without reservations”, but that they expected a more inclusive and national dialogue.

Mr Mudavadi said that despite the Uhuru-Raila handshake, ANC is still committed to the Nasa vision and condemned what he termed “attempts to undermine multiparty democracy”.

“If it becomes necessary, we will remain alone as the Opposition as everyone else joins the government ... The opposition cannot go into a coalition with the Jubilee Party,” he said.

MEETING
At Wiper headquarters, Mr Musyoka remained optimistic that the coalition will hold together, despite the disagreements.

“The centre will hold. As a party, we support a strong Nasa with the four political parties holding together,” he said, adding that decisions by the coalition could only be communicated by its secretariat, headed by Mr Norman Magaya.

It is unlikely that Mr Mudavadi will attend the meeting, owing to his party’s tough stance against ODM and the deal.

His party’s NEC unanimously voted to disengage and discontinue contacts with Mr Odinga whom it accused of dishonesty.

The Nasa senators on Tuesday defied Mr Odinga and went on to hold a Parliamentary Group meeting that ratified last week’s ODM resolution to replace Mr Wetang’ula with Mr Orengo.

CHANGE COURSE
Mr Odinga had summoned the senators for a meeting at Panafric Hotel to discuss the removal but the legislators turned down the invite and reportedly switched off their phones.

A senator who did not want to be named claimed today they had taken the action after Mr Wetang’ula insulted them during a public function on Sunday.

It is not clear where the function was but the senator claimed Mr Wetang’ula had rebuffed any overtures from the legislators, telling a friend that he would rather “talk to the owner of the dogs”.

It emerged that Mr Odinga had tried to prevail upon Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo against delivering the letter containing the resolution of the parliamentary group to the office of the Speaker.

But Mr Kilonzo is reported to have told his former boss that he could not withhold the letter.

At the rise of the House on Tuesday, Mr Orengo summoned a senators’ Kamukunji at the Senators’ lounge where Mr Wetang’ula’s removal was discussed.

WETANG'ULA FATE
At the end of the meeting, Mr Orengo is said to have suggested that the resolution be revisited and Mr Wetang’ula given back his seat, inviting the wrath of the senators.

Speaking on Citizen TV later, Mr Orengo hinted at a possible return of Mr Wetang’ula, telling the presenter not to refer to him as the leader of the minority yet.

Today, Mr Kilonzo Jnr confirmed tomorrow’s meeting but refused to give further details.

“The removal of Mr Wetang’ula is a done deal. It will not be revisited and we plan to tell Mr Odinga to his face on Thursday (today),” one of the senators said.

According to the source, the senators only agreed to attend Mr Odinga’s meeting on condition that the issue of Mr Wetang’ula’s removal will not be revisited.

RELATIONS
The senators have accused the Bungoma senator of being rough.

“You see, Mr Amos Wako and Mr James Orengo are his seniors but he treats them as members of his staff,” the senator said, echoing complaints by nominated senator Isaac Mwaura, who has never forgiven Mr Wetang’ula for referring to him as a senator from nowhere.

Today, Mr Wetang’ula had a lunch meeting with a group of Bungoma members of the county assembly who were in the House when Speaker Kenneth Lusaka delivered the ruling that appointed Mr Orengo.

Although he refused to speak to the media, Mr Wetang’ula told the MCAs that no one could wish him away, suggesting that the war in the coalition is far from over.