, NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 8 – Six Orange Democratic Movement party MPs have downplayed the differences between Raila Odinga and his deputy Musalia Mudavadi over the method of picking the party’s flag bearer, saying it will only strengthen the party.
The MPs led by Budalang’i legislator Ababu Namwamba told off their competitors whom they accused of being keen to see the party split over the matter arguing the party was exhibiting internal party democracy.
“We as the ODM members are the ones who know how to dance to this tune. There are those who tried to dance to it but failed and fell by the way side and become irrelevant, now they want to mess it up,” Namwamba said.
The MPs cautioned that they were aware that party rivals could be waiting to pick the spoils from the bitter race.
“If any of our competitors out there think that this is like a scuffle between two grasshoppers over food, and they are hoping to capitalise from it like a crow would gain from the fighting grasshoppers, oblivious of the danger lurking.”
“We want them to know that we are not grasshoppers nor are we an appetizer for their meal. ODM will come out of this even more united than before,” Namwamba told a news conference held at Parliament Buildings on Wednesday.
Mudavadi and his supporters have called for a system where the presidential contender is determined at the county level through a collegiate system which he says will avoid manipulation.
His proposal is that the 47 counties should be used as polling centres, bringing together 60 women, men and youths per each county to form a collegiate.
These would create 180 delegates for each of the counties. After the vote, to be supervised by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the results would be transmitted to a national tallying centre where the winner would be announced.
Mudavadi reckons that the system would not only be easier to manage but also cheaper. He put the cost at Sh40 million.
Odinga’s group however insists on the traditional National Delegates Conference where delegates are ferried to the city to choose the party flag bearer either through secret ballot or acclamation.
But at the news conference the MPs appeared divided, with Vihiga MP Yusuf Chanzu, an ally of the Deputy Premier insisting that the party delegates must be allowed to participate with the rest adding that the flag bearer will be decided by the party delegates
“Article 174 of the Constitution is the one that deals with the issue of devolution and if you read what it talks about, it’s exactly what we want to do in ODM. We want everybody to participate in what will be the election of our presidential candidate…there is no division in the ODM,” Chanzu said.
Gwassi MP John Mbadi said: “Basically, we are talking about electing using the same people but its location of the election that we have not agreed on, really should that case a crisis?
Namwamba who is also the party’s Parliamentary Group Secretary was quick to clarify any claim of divisions stating “unequivocally, that there are no camps within ODM.”
He said that the party will meet to decide on the mode of nomination to use to select its presidential candidate.
“It is something that will not be the first time, even in 2007 debate on the mode of nomination started in February and it was only in September when we ultimately decided it will be the NDC.”
The ODM Constitution states that the party may use the National Delegates Conference or any other mode to select the party flag bearer in an election.
Apart from Namwamba, the other MPs were Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda), Chanzu, Assistant Minister Mohamoud Mohamed, Bonchari MP Charles Onyancha and Gwassi MP John Mbadi.