, KAKAMEGA, Jan 14 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has renewed his call to those dissatisfied with ODM to quit barely a day after reports of a planned mass walkout by legislators from the Rift Valley.
Speaking in Kakamega, the Orange Democratic Movement party leader said their departure would not affect the popularity of the party.
The Premier’s hopes of building support in the vote-rich Rift Valley province suffered a blow on Thursday after Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgei resigned from her post as the Deputy Leader of Government Business.
Dr Kosgei was appointed to the powerful post four months ago after President Mwai Kibaki and the Prime Minister resolved a leadership tussle in the House Business Committee, which saw the Speaker Kenneth Marende serve as its acting chairman for two years.
On Friday, Mr Odinga chided the ODM members for their continued threats to decamp noting the party would not be shaken even when they leave as its popularity in the country is unassailable and still growing.
A rift between Mr Odinga and one of his deputies William Ruto has haunted the party in the last two years. Mr Ruto’s allies have indicated that they will be moving to a new party with the possibility of an alliance with Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of the 2012 polls.
Reports have indicated that Dr Kosgei\’s decision to quit was part of planned resignations en masse from party posts by MPs allied to Mr Ruto.
However on Friday the PM reiterated that ODM would hold grassroots elections from March 4 in a four-day exercise that is aimed at injecting fresh blood in the party leadership.
"I urge you to elect people of integrity to party positions; people whose loyalty to the party and what it stands for is beyond reproach,” he added.
Mr Odinga told party members to treat reports that ODM is losing its popularity and on the verge of collapse as mere propaganda that should be treated with contempt.
He said the party would be rebuilding itself to accomplish its mission of bringing good leadership and development to the country.
He was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, Ministers Soita Shitanda, Noah Wekesa, Fred Gumo and James Orengo. Others were MPs Manyala Keya, Eseli Simiyu, Bonny Khalwale and Ababu Namwamba.