19 May 2017

Kenya: Rebel ODM MPs Refuse to Be Swept Away By Their 'Kalausi'

A section of Orange Democratic Party (ODM) legislators could have lost in the recent party primaries in Nyanza region over their perceived rebellion against the opposition party leadership.

The Members of Parliament, majority of them first-timers, were ousted by newcomers and will possibly remain in the cold unless they vie as independent candidates and turn the tables on the ticket holders in the August 8 General Election.

Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura, who in 2013 defied the party leadership and declared an interest in the ODM secretary-general position, is among the casualties of the primaries.

He was beaten by Gem Central Member of the County Assembly Fred Ouda.

SEGA DECLARATION

The MP had been declared the winner but the result was later overturned.

"I won the ticket in a fair election and I am up to the task," Mr Ouda said.

"I am ready to face any other candidates in the August 8 election and I'm confident I will be the next MP for Kisumu Central."

In 2013, Mr Obura led a group of youthful MPs -- including Mr Dave Ochieng' (Ugenya), Mr George Oner (Rangwe), Mr Agostino Neto (Ndhiwa), Mr Sylvance Osele (Kabondo Kasipul) and Jared Kopiyo (Awendo) to drum up support for his Orange party SG post bid.

They came up with 'Sega Declaration' to push their agenda.

At the time, the top party leadership appeared to lean towards Nominated Senator Dr Agnes Zani for the position.

RAILA PRESIDENCY

Mr Ochieng' however defected to Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) for fear of being denied the ODM ticket.

He will now face off with ODM's Chris Karan on August 8. Mr Karan has vowed to make Mr Ochieng' a one-term MP.

"I am confident I will beat him hands down," Mr Karan said.

In Migori, Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, who had been linked to the Kalausi (Dholuo for whirlwind) movement in Nyanza, also lost to businessman Paul Abuor.

Mr Abuor polled 7,300 votes against Mr Otieno's less than 3,000.

"I will now launch a massive campaign for our party leader Raila Odinga in his quest for the presidency," Mr Abuor told the Nation.

"We will crisscross the constituency and the county to ensure a massive turnout in the August 8 elections to guarantee Raila the presidency."

REBELS

During the senatorial by-election in Homa Bay in 2015 following the death of Senator Otieno Kajwang' in November of the previous year, a group of MPs in the county broke ranks with ODM.

They opted to support Maendeleo Democratic Party candidate Philip Okundi against the late senator's brother Moses Kajwang', who was the party leadership's choice.

Mr Kajwang' eventually triumphed.

Termed rebels by their colleagues, the MPs cited many reasons -- among them "shambolic" nominations through which the party was "fond" of imposing unpopular candidates on the electorate.

Mr Oner and his Karachuonyo colleague James Rege openly supported Mr Okundi's candidature while Ms Millie Odhiambo (Suba North) and Mr Neto were non-partisan.

UHURU'S CAMPAIGNER

Save for Mr Rege, who had decamped to the ruling Jubilee Party, and Ms Odhiambo, who won in controversial circumstances, the rest of the MPs lost in the recent ODM primaries.

Mr Osele lost to Ms Eve Obara, a political greenhorn, in a disputed contest.

Mr Rege recently told the Nation that he will not vie for the Karachuonyo seat but will instead campaign for President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election.

"I will not seek re-election because of my task to head a team seeking votes for the Jubilee Party in western and Nyanza regions," Mr Rege said.

The loss of the former 'rebels' has been considered by some residents as a disciplinary measure against disloyalty to the party, which is the dominant one in the region.

REWARD AND PUNISHMENT

Mr George Okiki, a political commentator in the county, argues that ODM has never been tolerant to divergent views within its ranks.

"ODM party is known for not tolerating divergent views from its disgruntled party members. This is the reason why its independent-minded members lost in the primaries."

Mr Okiki argues that loyal MPs and governors were rewarded with tickets despite protests by voters against the decision.

After unsuccessfully challenging the results, Mr Oner, Mr Neto and Mr Osele have all vowed to unseat the ODM ticket "winners" in August through independent candidacy.

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