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Sharing the Orange at Bomas

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 18 – Delegates of the Orange Democratic Movement converged in Nairobi on Thursday to elect their national leadership.

The agenda for the National Delegates Conference (NDC) at the Bomas of Kenya was mainly aimed to meet the requirements of the Political Parties’ Act whose compliance deadline is December 31.

Delegates were expected to elect national officials but this could just be an endorsement of an already crafted list, as reports of intense lobbying and strategy meetings has been reported in the last few days.

Sources close to the party said the leadership row had been resolved through creation of new posts.

Under the new structure, the party will have the position of party leader to be retained by Raila Odinga.  Musalia Mudavadi and William Ruto will serve as his deputies.

Henry Kosgey will remain party chairman and will now have four deputies from the Coast, Rift Valley, Western and Northeastern.

Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o is expected to retain the post of Secretary General while Hassan Joho could be named Organising Secretary.

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Mr Odinga has been in a tight spot over the post of Deputy Leader which Mr Mudavadi and Mr Ruto have laid claim to. Reports indicated that the party’s top organ – the Pentagon – had met to try and iron out the differences.

A bloc of MPs from the South Rift supporting Mr Ruto had threatened to quit if he was not given the post but later resolved to fight from within.

Close to 30 seats will be up for grabs but focus is on who will bag the senior posts of Chairman, Secretary General (SG), Treasurer and Organising Secretary (OS). The posts are currently held by Henry Kosgey (Chairman), Anyang Nyongo (SG), Omingo Magara (Treasurer). It was also reported that these two would retain their posts but the OS post would be contested.

A number of ODM MPs met in Parliament on Wednesday to strategise ahead of the NDC. Meanwhile a section of ODM delegates from Central Province have denied that they are backing Co-operatives Minister Joseph Nyaga for the Vice Chairman’s position.

In statement sent to newsrooms, the delegates said no such agreement had been reached at the Monday meeting ahead of the NDC. They accused Mr Nyaga of using divisive propaganda for his political gain and insisted that they would not be pushed into electing any individual.

Since entering into a coalition agreement with the PNU early in the year, ODM has weathered internal rebellion, with a block from the South Rift posing the greatest challenge. The implementation of the Waki report into the post election violence has also divided the party right in the middle.

Besides the elections the conference will also endorse its constitution.

The NDC comes hot in the heels of grassroots polls marred by violence and claims of voter bribery amidst parallel elections. The party has already called for repeat polls at regions whose results were contested.

The Political parties act requires parties to show a national representation in their top leadership and open offices in all the constituencies. Already ODM Kenya, NARC Kenya, PICK and the Labour Party of Kenya have been registered by the new Registrar of Political Parties, Lucy Ndung’u.

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President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity is scheduled to host its delegates at the Kasarani Sports Centre on Friday. Intense lobbying for posts in the party is at its best.

On Wednesday interim Chairman Noah Wekesa bowed out of the race for his seat in favour of Internal Security Minister George Saitoti.

The hottest battle now lies at the Secretary General’s post which Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi and PNU spokesman, George Nyamweya are laying claim.

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