Raila headache as rebellion in ODM and Azimio grows

Apart from Kanchory, many of Raila MPs in Coast and Western are warming up to Ruto

In Summary
  • Kanchory latest loyalist to join growing list of rebels.
  • Ten Azimio governors gravitating towards Kenya Kwanza
Azimio leader Raila Odinga on August 26, 2023.
Azimio leader Raila Odinga on August 26, 2023.

Opposition chief Raila Odinga is facing a fresh hurdle in keeping his bastions intact with some of his lieutenants openly defying him and going to bed with his political nemesis.

Since losing the 2022 elections, the ODM boss has been grappling with the worst rebellion in his camp that has seen several Azimio-affiliated parties ditching the opposition coalition.

For the first time, Raila has lost both his rural and city MPs to the ruling Kenya Kwanza regime. 

The revolt worsened this week when one of Raila’s top loyalists - Kajiado Central MP Elijah Memusi Kanchory joined the growing list of rebels against the former Prime Minister.

Kanchory who has been Raila’s point man amongst the Maa community declared his commitment to working with President William Ruto and supporting government development programmes in the region.

The Maa community has been one of Odinga’s traditional bases and has religiously supported his presidential bids over the years.

Speaking at the home of former Kajiado Governor David Nkedianye on Monday in Kitengela, the unapologetic Kanchory urged Maa leaders in the county to rally behind Ruto even as he dares Raila to take action against him.

“If he wants us to return to the voters, we will go. But let Raila know that there are no votes carried in bags, the votes are with the people,” he said.

Raila has severally accused MPs associating with the President of betrayal and has vowed to expel them from the Orange Party to trigger by-elections.

Several ODM leaders from the Coast region and in Western Kenya are also cosying up to the Ruto. 

A number of ODM legislators are now working closely with Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula.

Musalia and Wetang'ula lead ANC and Ford Kenya respectively. 

Kanchory’s shocker comes on the backdrop of defiance by at least eight ODM lawmakers who have continuously staged open defiance even after the expulsion of some of them from the party.

They are MPs Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Phelix Odiwuor (Lang’ata) and Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda.

Mark Nyamita (Uriri) and Paul Abuor (Rongo) were, however, let off the hook with lighter punishments by ODM last week for their association with the President.

Abuor and Nyamita had a Wednesday deadline to render their apology to the party but in another act of defiance chose to meet Ruto at State House instead.

The MPs were among those accused of working closely with the Kenya Kwanza administration at the expense of the interests of their party.

They have, however, moved to the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal which on Tuesday quashed their expulsion until their case is heard and determined.

“In the interim and pending the hearing and determination of this Application, this Honourable Tribunal hereby issues interim conservatory orders staying the implementation and/or execution of the decision of the 1st Respondent to expel the Complainant/Applicants, from the Orange Democratic Movement Party," Political Parties Disputes Tribunal chairperson Desma Nungo said in court papers on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

Contacted, the ODM national chairman John Mbadi whose docket deals with the discipline of party members said he was unaware whether Abuor and Nyamita had tendered their apologies or not. 

“I am yet to check if they have written any letter,” Mbadi told the Star. 

Sources at Orange House, however, told the Star that none had written to the party as was directed last week by the ODM National Executive Council.

"So far none of the MPs has formally apologised, no communication from them yet," said a source not authorised to discuss party matters.

President Ruto on Wednesday hosted the seven ODM Members of Parliament at State House for a second time this year.

In Kisumu county, Raila has initiated the process to replace four nominated MCAs who defied the party’s position and voted against the ODM choice for speaker at the assembly.

They are Caroline Opar, Kennedy Ajwang’, Peter Obaso, and Regina Kizito.

The party has already revoked their nominations.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna also took on National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula who had castigated ODM of intolerance for the move to expel the renegades and daring them to resign and seek a fresh mandate from the electorate.

Sifuna citing a number of legislators that sought fresh mandate after falling out with their sponsoring parties challenged his colleagues to follow the same route.

“We know none of the rebels is brave enough to make the plunge,” he said.

Apart from the rebel MPs, nearly 10 opposition governors are currently gravitating towards the government. 

Some Azimio governors seen to be friendly to Ruto include Gideon Mung'aro(Kilifi), Abdulswamad Nassir(Mombasa), Fernandes Barasa( Kakamega), Joseph ole Lenku(Kajiado) and Paul Otuoma of Busia.

Others are Vihiga's Wilber Ottichilo, Trans Nzoia's George Natembeya, Wavinya Ndeti of Machakos, Makueni's Mutula Kilonzo and Kitui's Julius Malombe.

The emergence of a rebellious group within the ODM could be reminiscent of another aggressive campaign by some leaders from the region to upstage Raila ahead of the 2013 polls.

The movement then known as Kalausi had brought on board a number of MPs from the region including then-Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno.

However, the efforts fizzled out fast after they failed to launch a concrete onslaught against Raila's dominance.

In the renewed efforts to upstage Raila, the ODM rebel MPs have met several Cabinet Secretaries led by ICT CS Eliud Owalo.

They have also been present during Ruto’s tour of the region which is mostly given a wide birth by Azimio elected leaders.


(Edited by Tabnacha O)

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