The Star (Nairobi)

21 May 2012

Kenya: Raila to Reshuffle ODM Seats

Photo: WEF
Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya.

PRIME Minister Raila Odinga is set to reshuffle his side of the coalition government and reorganise ODM because of the exit of Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi from the party. The reshuffle, expected any time now, is aimed at easing Mudavadi out of the Cabinet and rewarding MPs who have remained loyal to the party in the five turbulent years it has shared power with PNU.

The idea of moving Mudavadi from the DPM's position is fraught with legal and political landmines because the job is secured in the 2008 National Accord that brought Raila and his ODM wing into the government. But Raila has decided to call Mudavadi's bluff and appoint a new deputy in the government.

The ODM also needs two deputy leaders to replace Mudavadi and Eldoret North MP William Ruto who parted ways with Raila much earlier than the DPM.

Raila is said to be under pressure from his allies to reclaim the DPM position "because it is not Mudavadi's personal property" and that "failure to act on the defectors would amount to endorsing impunity".

On Tuesday, Raila met with a group of youthful ODM members from western Kenya who urged him to push Mudavadi out. The meeting was held just before the PM chaired the ODM National Executive Committee which advised him, as the party leader, to explore all means necessary to ensure Mudavadi is stripped of the position.

The group that met with the PM included Vihiga county chairman Ken Butiko, Kakamega ODM county secretary Martin Andati and delegates Nabi Nabwera and Ben Ombima from Lugari and Vihiga respectively. The NEC also demanded that Mumias MP Ben Washiali, who decamped with Mudavadi to the United Democratic Forum, be stripped of his position as ODM's deputy chief whip.

The committee further asked the party chief whip Jakoyo Midiwo to immediately pick a replacement for Washiali. "The National Executive Committee instructs the party leader who is also the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya to immediately nominate a new Deputy Prime Minister in accordance with Section 3 (3) of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act," said deputy secretary general Joseph Nkaissery who spoke on behalf of the party.

"This position does not belong to Mudavadi. He was appointed by virtue of his being an ODM member. The DPM is the property of ODM and now that he has left it is only fair that he surrenders everything to the party," said the source.

The position is supported by Kipkelion MP Magerer Langat who maintains that Mudavadi must resign from the position. "When you are a soldier on the frontline and you decide to dessert from the army you don't go away with uniforms, guns and all other property of the army. You surrender them and Mudavadi must do just that," Magerer said.

Legally, Mudavadi's position is safely secured in the National Accord and ODM plans remain difficult propositions. The technicalities involved are difficult, both legally and politically. The Sabatia MP has declared that he will not quit because the position is part of the Accord of which he was a crucial party in its construction. If he refuses to quit, then the only available avenue is a no-confidence motion passed by parliament, which in the prevailing circumstances will be a tall order for Raila and his troupes in ODM.

It is unlikely that Mudavad will let go without a fight now that he has been buoyed by powerful elements within PNU. According to the source, Raila has no "eye popping" formula of getting rid of a man who until a couple of months ago was one of his most trusted allies.

However, the Star has learnt that Raila has little choice as some leaders from the Luhya community have challenged him to test the waters by "appointing a new DPM" from among the ranks of ODM ministers from the region.

The idea, according to the plan, is to force Mudavadi out through by a sustained onslaught of "political pressure" that will make him feel out of place. This plan is based on assumption that Mudavadi "has no spine for sustained political attacks". The Raila camp believe that Mudavadi will be scared of the turf wars that may ensue in the event such a decision is made.

The problem that Raila and his men are grappling with is that this route largely depends on whether President Kibaki will play ball, and from the past experience, it is unlikely that the President would.

Planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya and his Agriculture counterpart Sally Kosgei are being touted as the hot favourites to replace Mudavadi should the plan come to fruition.

While Oparanya's possible appointment is considered natural because he comes from the Luhya community, Kosgei is being considered seriously to placate the restive Rift Valley region, which has been at William Ruto's beck and call. It is also anticipated that with Kosgei getting the nod for the seat, Raila may secure the endorsement of women voters. Westlands MP Fred Gumo is to be confirmed in the Local Government docket with Kisauni MP Ali Joho expected to take over the Regional Development docket from Gumo.

However, Joho's possible appointment is already getting resistance within the ranks of Luhya politicians within the party. They argue that the seat, which Gumo has held since 2008, belongs to the Luhya and they see no reason to surrender it to the Coast.

However, Raila is said to favour Joho's elevation principally to assuage the Coast region that has been apprehensive with Raila and ODM since the sacking of Najib Balala from the Tourism docket a couple of months ago.

Balala was replaced by Dan Muazo, a Christian, and Muslim leaders have not tired of accusing Raila of betrayal. Nominated MP Mohammed Dor termed Balala's sacking as "an attempt by the Prime Minister to create religious strife". In elevating Joho, Raila expects to kill two birds with one stone.

First is to placate the Muslim community that has accused him of abrogating a pre-election MoU, and secondly it will help him secure the party's interests in Mombasa county, which has also been mumbling that Balala's flag was for "Mombasa county".

Budalang'i MP Ababu Namwamba is expected to go through the PM's revolving door as the an assistant minister, taking over from Alfred Khang'ati, who is poised to take over from Orwa Ojodeh at the Internal Security ministry. Ojodeh is to be moved to Gender ministry to replace Manyala Keya who has moved on with Mudavadi to UDF.

Either Alfred Sambu or Wilbur Ottichilo will be appointed to the Information docket to replace George Khaniri, who like, Keya, has moved on to UDF.

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InFocus

Kenya: Raila Odinga to Reshuffle Cabinet

Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya.

The Prime Minister is set to reshuffle his side of the coalition government and reorganise ODM because of the exit of Deputy Prime Minister from the party. Read more »