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ODM ready for grassroot polls

NAIROBI, August 10 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) on Saturday announced that they would soon carry out grassroots elections in line with the recently enacted Political Parties Act.

Odinga said that party organs were working on a programme schedule to hold the polls and elect new office bearers in the wake of a six-month grace period for political parties to restructure, in tandem with the new laws.

“We will soon hold elections so that we can strengthen the party at all levels, during my visits to the countryside, people have stressed the need for all of us to be united,” the ODM party leader said.

He urged party supporters during the homecoming party for the Kasarani legislator Elizabeth Ongoro, to forge unity ahead of the 2012 general polls.

In characteristic style, the PM spoke proverbially and told party supporters to forget the era of the 2007 General Election campaigns and instead focus on rebuilding and developing the nation.

“We have to sow our seed during this rainy season so that we reap our harvest in future rather than anticipate rainfall that may never materialise… I want you to see what I see ahead,” he said in apparent reference to preparations for the 2012 poll.

The ODM leader told off a section of politicians, saying the often embarrassed the party leadership by misleading supporters into heckling coalition partners.

He cited that this portrayed a negative rivalry and mistrust among the grand coalition government partners and yet the two principals were working to unite the nation.

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Odinga said the coalition government had formulated affirmative action initiatives to empower youth and women to realise their aspirations to improve their living standards.

“The youth are today’s leaders and not those of tomorrow. Therefore we must uplift them, for a nation that cannot do that cannot develop. Likewise, a nation that doesn’t respect its women cannot progress. That is why I have been fighting for equality in our country,” said the Premier.

He stated that part of the affirmative initiative was the inception of a Ministry to specifically address the unique development challenges facing Arid Lands and Northern Kenya, to ensure the entire country was uniformly developed.

He reassured the gathering at Baba Dogo grounds that the party, despite forming a coalition government, was determined to deliver its pre-election pledges.

The Prime Minister revealed that the government had finalised plans to construct by-passes and other infrastructural development to steer the desired economic growth, in line with vision 2030.

He also announced that the Cabinet had published a land reform policy legislation to streamline related issues, and warned sternly that the current regime would not entertain the allotment of public utility land.

The ODM chief regretted that some unscrupulous land speculators had dubiously acquired prime land for development at no cost, which ‘they are now hoarding at exorbitant prices whenever investors develop an interest in their property’.

“It is very hurting that these land merchants are scaring away potential investors who could have created jobs for unemployed youth, to neighbouring countries, due to the high prices tag they have placed on the illegally acquired assets,” he retorted.

"They grabbed land, retained letters of allotment and now want to sell the same to investors at Sh100 million for an acre, yet there has been no development on the same land for the past ten years."

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The premier said plans were underway to convene regional investor’s forums in all provinces to woo local business communities to partner with the government in the fight against poverty.  

He illustrated that such forums would assist the government as it embarks on devolving its resources to reduce rising poverty levels.

The homecoming party was attended by Cabinet Minister Fred Gumo, co-government Parliamentary chief whip Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem MP), Peris Chepchumba (Eldoret South MP), plus nominated legislators Millie Odhiambo and Rachael Shebesh.

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