NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Two Orange Democratic Movement members have moved to the High Court seeking to strip party membership and parliamentary seats off five of its rebel members led by Eldoret North lawmaker William Ruto.
The petitioners, Mpuru Aburi and Kepher Odongo, claim that the rebel MPs including Isaac Ruto, Joseph Kutuny, Adan Duale and Charles Keter have abandoned the party and joined the United Democratic Movement in contravention of the Constitution.
“The respondents have publicly and in various fora declared that they have quit and are no longer members of ODM,” the two said in the petition filed by lawyer Cecil Miller.
“They have declared to have joined or taken over the United Democratic Movement (UDM).”
They claim that the five rebel MPs have publicly recruited members to join UDM and have also supported their rival, the Party of National Unity, in issues which ODM has taken a contrary position.
“In Parliament they have persistently joined forces with PNU on issues in respect of which ODM has taken a contrary position and voted with PNU against ODM,” they said in the petition.
Mr Aburi and Mr Odongo claim that the MPs have effectively resigned and defected from ODM yet they continue to hold the office of MP having been sponsored by ODM in the 2007 general elections and continue to draw remuneration from public funds on that basis.
Mr Miller wants the court to declare their parliamentary seats vacant in accordance with the Constitution.
“The respondents are holding the offices of MPs illegally by virtue of the operations of Article 103 of the Constitution as read with Section 17(4) of the Political Parties Act 2007,” Mr Miller said in the petition.
If the petitioners succeed, the five legislators would become partyless and would automatically lose their parliamentary seats.
The defendants’ position is worsened by another court case in which they have been sued over the ownership/leadership of UDM in which Lt. Gen. (Rtd) John Koech is trying to wrestle the party from Mr Ruto and his allies.
The case is due in court on Thursday for hearing.