October 20th 2017

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ODM grassroots officials accused of undermining governors

But as if to confirm the governor's complaint that Mr Orege was positioning his allies to take over positions from incumbent leaders, Mr Orege was accompanied by an aspirant for West Sakwa Ward, Albert Ojonyo, who is a member of his line-up.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 07 Sep 2016 15:57 EAT

A debate has emerged in ODM over the conduct of grassroots party officials running for political office against incumbents. Siaya County is the stage of a rare confrontation between elected leaders and grassroots officials who are both allied to party leader Raila Odinga but cannot agree on the party's role in domestic political contests.

The fight for the Siaya governorship has poisoned relations between local leaders. Governor Cornel Rasanga, who was hosted by Ugunya MP Opiyo Wandayi at the MP's home last week, has said that some party officials are currently backing other individuals interested in ousting him from the position.

The local ODM Secretary, former permanent secretary Carey Orege, has denied claims by the governor that local party officials are using their positions to undermine the governor and his administration. Speaking after a church service at Nyangera Holy Trinity Church in Bondo Sub County on Sunday, Mr Orege, who has declared his interest in the governor's position, maintain that he and other branch officials are bona fide residents of Siaya and therefore have democratic rights to comment on local political issues.

Governor Rasanga however complains about meddling by Mr Orege and other local officials, whom he accused of undermining rather than supporting his administration before the electioneering period starts. He said such support for his opponents by the party officials was disruptive because his opponents began their campaigns at least two years before the election, and are relying on local party functionaries to undermine his authority.

While speaking at Mr Wandayi's home, the governor had said that, in advanced democracies, when a party sponsors a candidate who wins office, then for the period that official serves in the office no member of that same party can begin campaigns against the incumbent before elections are called.

Rasanga’s complaint lies at the heart of troubles brewing in ODM, where branch officials are seen as undermining elected leaders while advancing their own interests or the cause of other aspiring politicians. 

The governor of Kwale, Salim Mvurya, announced his intention to defect to Jubilee over the weekend, claiming that local ODM officials were undermining him. Mvurya had just days before appealed to Raila Odinga to ensure ODM nominations for the 2017 elections were credible.

Orege, the secretary, is running against Rasanga in the next elections. Speaking on Sunday, Mr Orege defended his dual interests, insisting that Rasanga should just work hard to convince the electorates if he wants to retain the seat, instead of blaming the party officials for his political woes.

But as if to confirm the governor's complaint that Mr Orege was positioning his allies to take over positions from incumbent leaders, Mr Orege was accompanied at the service by an aspirant for the West Sakwa Ward, Albert Ojonyo, who is a member of his line-up for the various seats in Siaya.

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