Coast ODM MPs on Wednesday laughed off threats of punishment by their party for saying they will support Deputy President William Ruto’s bid for the presidency in 2022.
Led by Coast Parliamentary Group chairman Suleiman Dori, who is the Msambweni MP, the legislators said the region can only be in government if it supports Mr Ruto.
They were reacting to threats by the party’s secretary-general Edwin Sifuna that those who have expressed support for Mr Ruto will be punished.
Mr Sifuna said the Raila-led party through its appropriate organs will consider disciplinary action against the members should they persist in their contempt of party resolutions and directions.
Although the party respects members rights to express themselves freely, those who have declared they will back Mr Ruto are in breach of the institution’s resolutions. The party, he said is focused on the building bridges initiative spearheaded by Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“It is shocking indeed that some of those engaged in these premature campaigns for Ruto are members of the Party’s NEC who are expected to abide by its decisions,” Mr Sifuna said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Mr Dori and Kinango’s Benjamin Tayari, threw their weight behind the DP’s candidature, while speaking during the World Environment Day event at Baraza Park in Kwale, which was attended by Mr Ruto.
They said they will support Mr Ruto “as he was the only one with the capacity to address issues affecting the Coastal people and bring them development.”
Yesterday, Kilifi North MP Owen Baya said ODM’s resolutions cannot supersede the constitution which gives Kenyans the right of expression.
“Mr Sifuna is just being a busy body. He should let us do our work. We cannot be muzzled by party resolutions. Mr Ruto is part of the building bridges initiative and will continue featuring in our conversations,” said Mr Baya.
Jomvu MP Badi Twalib said leaders are free to interact with leaders from all parties and that their endorsement of Mr Ruto is procedural.
“Our party leader said the initiative was not about 2022 and that is why we have chosen Mr Ruto as we know he is the one who will head us beyond 2022. If Mr Ruto has demonstrated efforts that he suits us then we will continue to support him,” he said, adding that they will deal with the disciplinary threats later.
Mr Omar Mwinyi of Changamwe called on ODM members to respect its policies, saying those who contravened them are eligible for punishment.
“Action should be taken against any member who goes against the party guidelines. We are a party guided by rules which must be followed. It was well said that we should only be involved with the initiative by our leaders and those who are endorsing people for 2022 are violating the party resolutions,” said Mr Mwinyi.
Mr Dori said the region could only be in government if it supports the DP.
“I want to ask leaders and residents of Kwale and the coast as a whole that we should work with a leader who is ready to bring development to our societies and that is none other than Ruto,” he said.
His Jomvu counterpart Badi Twalib promised to support Mr Ruto, who he described as development-conscious and being in touch with the people .
“We have seen your capability and we will support you even as you wander around because we have seen the results of your countrywide tours” said Mr Twalib, who won his seat on an ODM ticket.
The MPs are some of Mombasa governor Hassan Joho’s close allies and their declaration could be seen as dealing a huge blow to his dream of clinching the presidency in the next General Election.