, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 7 – A United Democratic Movement National Executive Council Meeting met on Friday despite opposition from a splitter group and unanimously agreed to fix election dates from February 7 to 9 for grassroots election.
Speaking after a four-hour long meeting, UDM Party National Interim Chairman Joseph Chirchir said that the party would hold its National Delegates Convention on February 22 where party delegates will, among other things, elect new national officials and also endorse the new party constitution.
Chirchir said that the elections from the ward level to the county level would be held before the delegates’ convention, which will serve as the culmination of national elections for UDM as a party.
But, a differing faction led by UDM secretary General Martin Ole Kamwaro has insisted that the resolutions of the meeting called by the party’s Interim Chair Joseph Chirchir would not be binding on the party.
Kamwaro who spoke after an emergency National Executive Council meeting said that the meeting was illegal as it wasn’t called by the party’s Secretary General as laid out in the party’s Constitution.
He said that the party had already informed the Registrar of Political Parties about the illegality of the meeting held in Lavington.
Kamwaro said: “That was a meeting that was illegally convened, the mandate and power to call for an emergency meeting is vested in the Secretary General. The text messages that were circulated emanated from the Chairman himself, in contravention of the UDM Constitution. Any decision or resolution that is arrived at is not binding.“
Chirchir however dismissed the claims saying his faction’s meeting was properly convened and that it had the support of 26 party members.
“It is very clear in Act 16 (1) (7) of the UDM Party Constitution, that the secretary general in consultation with the national chairman will convene the NEC, or, the operative word is, or, 30 percent of the NEC members petition by writing and signing to the Chair indicating a need for a meeting. So I used the second option which makes it legally convened,” he said.
Chirchir said he had consulted with Kamwaro and they had agreed to have the meeting and even asked him to set the venue, invite NEC members and arranged other logistics.
Kamwaro’s group is accused of blocking the party from holding grassroots elections fearing that Ruto’s group will take charge. Ruto has, however, insisted that UDM must hold polls by the end of January.
“The party does not belong to any individual. Party members must be allowed to decide who will be officials through grassroots polls”, Chirchir said.
The interim Chairman said there were members of the NEC who were threatened by the elections because they would lose their seats if the polls were called. He argued that such members had resorted to using the NEC to frustrate the elections.
“They are afraid of any elections since their positions are threatened by the new crop of members who have since joined the party,” Chirchir said.
Chirchir and the party’s only MP Hellen Sambili (Mogotio) asserted that UDM is not someone’s party adding that the elections would help the party achieve a national image.
“This party is not anyone’s property; it belongs to the people of Kenya. I want to thank the people who elected me through this party because this party is a blessed party and it is going to form the next government in 2013,” said the Mogotio MP and former Cabinet minister.
MPs William Ruto and Cyrus Jirongo, who have expressed an interest to vie for the presidency on the party’s ticket, also visited the party headquarters but didn’t attend the meeting because they are not registered members of the party.
He further alleged that the party had been permeated by characters from Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) who intended to forcefully take over control of the party.
“We are seeing a situation where some members of ODM have gone berserk and they are bent to destroying our party that we have struggled to built and we must be allowed to run our party in the way we know it best,” the UDM Secretary General insisted.
He affirmed that the party will only hold elections after receiving a report next week from the committee formed to look into the logistics of holding grassroots elections.
(Lordrick Mayabi also contributed to this article)