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Raila downplays ODM rift

NAIROBI, September 27 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Saturday downplayed the ongoing debate over who will be his Deputy in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

Mr Odinga said the current power struggle between Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Agriculture Minister William Ruto for the Deputy Leader position would not split the party.

Speaking during Mr Mudavadi’s home-coming party in Sabatia, Mr Odinga said the squabbles between the two were minor and should be settled amicably.

“We are united and will continue working together for the development of this nation,” he said.

Intense lobbying for the post has put party leaders and supporters from Rift Valley and those from Western Province on a collision course. Mr Odinga and other party leaders will have to decide who should be the party’s No 2 in a month’s time since the position is not elective, as stipulated in the party’s constitution.

Speaking at the party, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Ruto also downplayed their differences saying ODM would remain united.

“There is nothing wrong with anyone of us expressing their ambitions. We must be prepared to face it inside the ODM Party,” said Mudavadi.

Mr Ruto told the crowd: “the Prime Minister’s position was mine but I left it for Raila. (As) for the Deputy Prime Minister position I decided not fight Musalia for the post, they should do the same.”

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Several Members of Parliament (MP) led by Fred Gumo of Westlands said they would not accept Musalia to be replaced as ODM Deputy Leader.

“The deputy party leader’s position is reserved for Mudavadi by virtue of having been the ODM presidential running mate. I don’t see anyone taking it from him.”

Some MPs from Western Province had advised Mr. Ruto to go for the ODM Secretary-General’s seat when the party elections are held in November.

Ruto however said he was not interested having served as KANU Secretary General for several years.

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