Rebellion rocking the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in western Kenya continued to escalate as more regions continue to express their intentions to jump ship ahead of next year’s elections.
Hot on the heels of the resignation of key party officials Ababu Namwamba and Paul Otuoma, another national official from the region, Sirisia MP John Waluke led party office-bearers from his Bungoma branch in relinquishing their positions.
Waluke, who doubled-up as the National Director of Security, yesterday said he had resigned from the two positions, accusing party leader Raila Odinga of “selfishness and betrayal”.
Accompanied by Ababu and Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka, Waluke told Kenyans to wait for a major announcement this week by more politicians from the region. And a similar move was said to be simmering in the party’s Kisii branch after top officials, including Kisii Senator and branch chairman Chris Obure, South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya — both elected on an ODM ticket — joined Kitutu Chache PDP MP Richard Onyonka during the weekend in announcing plans to decamp from the party to form a regional one.
Raila held sway in Kisii region by almost two-thirds majority votes in the 2013 elections and should the planned defections bear fruit, it will pose a big blow to his foothold in the region. And in the Coast region, a group of ODM rebel MPs in collaboration with the Kaya Council of Elders on Saturday announced plans to join the ruling Jubilee coalition.
The group, led by Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro said growing support for Jubilee from residents of Coast is a true reflection of the recent survey by IPSOS, which shows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s rising approval. And apparently rattled by the current developments, Raila appeared to embark on a new strategy aimed at stemming the fallout.
ODM insiders said the immediate reaction was to go easy on the perceived defectors and instead, woo grassroot supporters not to follow them. This has been noticeable in the opposition leader’s non-combative approach to the matter since Ababu led in ditching his party responsibility.
Insiders also said Raila plans to woo back some political leaders who defected from the party after the chaotic primaries ahead of the 2013 polls.
Already, Migori Governor Okoth Obado, who was elected on Peoples Progressive Party (PDP), has rejoined ODM. Speaking in Migori town during a home-coming rally for Suna East MP Junet Mohammed on Friday, Obado announced he would stand by Raila in the next elections.
Other non-ODM MPs targeted for defection include Muhoroni MP Onyango K’Oyoo, Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch and Alego Usonga’s Omondi Muluan.
“I have no problem with the party leader and ODM because I know this time things will be different,” said K’Oyoo. It was notable that as Suba MP John Mbadi addressed media on Saturday about the hiked fuel levy, he uncharacteristically avoided the subject of ODM defectors.
Speaking in Muhoroni constituency on Saturday, Raila said he had already consolidated new support from various regions within the country. He is said to have planned a wooing offensive for the western region with a tour to begin on July 18.
But even as Raila make his overtunes his brother nominated Senator Oburu Odinga and Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo were accusing Ababu and other rebel ODM MPs of undermining Raila. The two claimed that the rebels in the western region they would not succeed in their mission to “hoodwink” the region that Namwamba can become the next president or deputy president.
Speaking separately, the leaders claimed Namwamba had no ambitions to lead Kenya, saying his aim was to spoil for Raila in 2017. “Raila is the one who brought in Ababu, empowered and popularised him through ODM and now he is out to bite the hand that fed him.
He was also appointed a ministerial post in the grand coalition government while I and the late Orwa Ojode were denied,” said Oburu. “We know that Ababu was demanding to hold the ODM party certificate and we refused to hand it to him,” said Midiwo.