NAIROBI, September 6 – Members of Parliament from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) are set for a party retreat in Naivasha on Sunday, amid growing discontent over the apparent inaccessibility of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Assistant Minister Adan Douale told Capital News that party members would raise the matter with Odinga who is the ODM party leader.
The leaders complained that Odinga had become unavailable to address their various concerns.
“The Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Office must be accessible, MPs must see their party leader any time they have an issue, accessibility of the Prime Minister is now a very big issue in ODM to members. I am a Minister but it is still a problem,” he said.
Douale said Odinga’s continued absence was being felt by members and was likely to cause huge communication hiccups if he did not create time for the party members.
However the Prime Minister’s Spokesman Salim Lone defended Odinga, saying his boss had added responsibilities due to his portfolio.
He said despite his busy schedules, Odinga creates time to listen to most of the ODM members.
“It’s true he is not as available as before, not that he doesn’t care about the importance of regular meetings, it is because he has more concerns and serious responsibilities than he did before he became Prime Minister,” said Lone.
Sunday’s meeting also comes as some ODM members continue to accuse the party of making key decisions without involving them.
Embakasi ODM Secretary Richard Hongos said that councillors had been sidelined in almost all the key decision making meetings.
He cited the Naivasha retreat, during which key party decisions are expected to be made, yet the grassroots leaders had not been invited.
However, most of the ODM MPs and Cabinet Ministers who spoke to Capital News expressed optimism that the Naivasha retreat could be the beginning of settling their differences.
The Dujis MP (Douale) said he expected distribution of the Pentagon, restructuring and elections of ODM to be among the key issues on the agenda.
“I am going to propose that Cabinet Ministers should not hold party posts, including the Chair, the Secretary General and the Treasurer,” he said.
Currently the three positions are held by ODM Cabinet Ministers, Odinga, Professor Anyang Nyong’o and Omingo Magara respectively.
Duale was also expecting a discussion on constitution review, to decide on ODM’s position on the system of governance to feature in their meeting.
“I believe we will also talk about the constitution to decide if ODM is for a Presidential or Parliamentary system of governance, I also hope that ODM will tomorrow (Sunday) make a final decision if they will support the Bill pushing for a grand opposition or not,” he said.
Kisumu Town West MP Olago Aluoch said: “I see positive results, every time ODM has had problems, we have held meetings and we have succeeded and I am sure we will come from the Naivasha Retreat more united than before.”
About 100 ODM MPs are expected to attend Sunday’s retreat that will give them a chance to air their concerns, ideas and make decisions on how to move the party forward.