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Referendum, 2022 polls initiate ODM's overhaul

Wednesday May 15 2019

ODM

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna. He has said the party is initiating internal reforms. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JUSTUS OCHIENG'
By JUSTUS OCHIENG'
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The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) says it’s re-engineering itself ahead of the proposed referendum and the 2022 elections, but party officials remained guarded on its leader Raila Odinga’s political future.

Chairman John Mbadi told the Nation that the party would push for constitutional changes through a referendum with a view to having a “more accommodative system”.

He hinted at the possibility of the party endorsing an expanded executive with positions for the presidency, prime minister and deputies.

A source within the party said Mr Odinga is still keen on the presidency or the prime minister’s position.

“As ODM, we would even want to have all the positions, but the reality of the moment will dictate,” Mr Mbadi told the Nation on Tuesday.

PARTNERSHIPS

He went on: “The reality is that ODM will not get all the seats. We will negotiate at an appropriate time, but it’s still too early to know which position we’re going to negotiate with, and which one we will go for.

"Right now, we’re pushing for an accommodative government. Whoever is going to occupy which position will be left for Kenyans and, of course, political parties to negotiate.”

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said the party would remain open to forging new partnerships in future polls. “As a political party, we exist to compete for, and win power and this will not change in any proposed constitutional dispensation,” Mr Sifuna said.

He was however quick to add that the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta Mr Odinga remains about bringing Kenyans together and resolving long-standing challenges to unity.

“It has nothing to do with 2022 political formations. It’s way too early to talk about 2022 and strategies of winning the election. Our focus now is on BBI [Building Bridges Initiative] and the constitutional and legal reforms required to ensure all future elections are free, fair and credible,” Mr Sifuna said.

HANDSHAKE

ODM National Treasurer Timothy Bosire said the party is set to play a major role in the coming referendum, while Political Affairs Director Opiyo Wandayi said they are keen on a unity drive geared towards “rallying our people behind the handshake and to contribute to the realisation of its objectives”.

At the weekend, Mr Odinga told Kenyans to brace themselves for massive changes ahead of the 2022 polls and warned that those who try to resist will be consumed by a raging tide.

While touring projects in Kisumu on Monday, the opposition leader said the push for a referendum is unstoppable. “You know River Nile, once it leaves Lake Victoria nothing can stop it. So, you wait and see; these people you see here talking everywhere calling themselves takataka (trash) will shut up in the coming months when we move forward with transforming and uniting Kenya,” Mr Odinga said.

Last Sunday, the ODM leader met his deputy, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, at his Butere home where he announced that they would soon begin a tour of the region, in what is seen as a plan to neutralise Deputy President William Ruto's efforts in making inroads in the area.

COEXISTENCE

Mr Mbadi disclosed that just like in 2013 when ODM partnered with Wiper Democratic Party and Ford Kenya to form the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) and the National Super Alliance (Nasa) in 2017, the party “may have the same arrangement or even a better one” in 2022.

As the country gears up for a referendum, the Suba South MP said, they will vouch for a parliamentary or hybrid system like in the case of France.

“The presidential system doesn’t work in a system that’s as polarised as ours. If we can’t go parliamentary — because there are people opposed to it — we need a mixed system, a hybrid system like the French model, and have Cabinet secretaries from Parliament so that it’s more accountable,” he said.