Top Stories / National
Sunday, 17 Jul 2016 20:55 EATdkiraka@kenyafreepress.com
A statement by Deputy President William Ruto indicating that Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba, who recently resigned as ODM secretary general, was due to join the Jubilee Coalition has put the youthful MP on the defensive.
Namwamba released a statement this afternoon to deny Ruto’s assertion that Namwamba was among a number of ODM politicians from Coast, Western and Nyanza regions who had committed to join the Jubilee coalition ahead of next year’s elections.
“We shall not be distracted by the wild propaganda and speculation about our destination or who we shall partner with in that journey,” Namwamba said in a press statement that rejected Ruto's assertion this afternoon.
While addressing his supporters at a public rally in Baringo on Friday, Ruto said: “Ababu Namwamba has resigned from CORD and he is joining Jubilee. We thank all of them for heeding our calls for a unified nation free of hatred and politics of division," he said. Ruto's statement came while Namwamba has been positioning himself for the launch of a party he hopes to form for Western Kenya leaders that he has described as "the third force."
Meanwhile, Namwamba's comrade in the walkout from ODM positions, Funyula MP Paul Otuoma, announced on Saturday that he had no intention to quit ODM. Otuoma said that he will continue being an ODM member and that he only relinquished his position as a party officials owing to differences at the national level.
Following the much publicized and dramatic revolt by Namwamba and Otwoma, ODM and CORD coalition Principal Raila Odinga has launched a five-day tour of Western Kenya starting from Monday.
The party committee held a crisis meeting on Tuesday in which several key matters were addressed, most of which were aimed at invoking some semblance of normalcy in the dented image of the party, with added fears rising of a possible walkout by leaders from Kisii, in which Kisii Senator Chris Obure is touted as leading the exit.
Raila will tour Western Kenya, where he will visit Vihiga, Busia and Kakamega counties in an itinerary that will see him hold over 30 meetings. Among the places the CORD principal will visit include holding delegates’ meetings at Sosa Hotel in Vihiga County before addressing public rallies in Majengo, Mbale and Mudete.
He will also foray into Budalangi and Funyula, home constituencies of Namwamba and Otuoma, with Wednesday and Thursday spent in and around Busia. He will hold a delegates meeting at Port Victoria in Budalang’i before holding a public rally in the constituency.
Raila will also address the public in Sio Port, Funyula constituency, in Funyula Town and in Bumala. Thursday will kick off his day two Busia travel, where he will hold two roadside addresses at Adungosi and Ang’ori and public rallies at Malaba and Samba Chai.
He will round off his trip on Friday in Kakamega County, where he will hold a town hall meeting at Matungu, a roadside address at Mumias Bus Park and public rallies at Shianda and Musanda.
The unrest in the once widely popular party started as a ripple of complain from Otuoma, Namwamba and seven other legislators from Western Kenya but has graduated into a full-blown turbulent in recent weeks, with Sirisia MP John Walukhe being the third after Namwamba and Otuoma to quit his position as chair of ODM in Bungoma County.
However, the MPs are yet to hand in their resignation letters as per the writing of this article. On Thursday, National Elections Council (NEC) named nominated Senator Agnes Zani as the party’s acting secretary general. The party also gave Namwamba a seven-day ultimatum to either resume duties or to formally communicate to the party his decision to ditch it so that they can carve a way forward.
Meanwhile, the party has threatened to resume their street protests after claiming that the selected committee put together by the government and opposition to discuss the IEBC snag has been compromised. They called for the disbandment of the committee, failure to which they will go back to street demonstrations to push for action.
Addressing the ODM wrangles earlier on Tuesday in Kakamega, Lurambi MP Raphael Otaalo pointed a finger at poor communication for the storms rocking the party. Otaalo said that he was unhappy with the indifference showed by the top officials of the party when addressing the unrest, terming their response as ‘lukewarm’, stating that this casual approach to the complains of party members was what was fueling acrimony and misunderstanding.
“The issues raised by Mr Namwamba and Mr. Otuoma were weighty and the ODM officials at the party and the ODM officials at the party headquarters should have addressed their concerns with the seriousness they deserved,” Otaalo said.
Kiraka is a student of journalism at the Technical University of Kenya (TUK). His interests are business, politics, sports and media criticism.