NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 31 – The battle for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Secretary-General’s position is now between four members after the deadline for returning the application forms lapsed on Friday.
Nominated Senators Agnes Zani, Elizabeth Ongoro will face off with Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba and Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo for the powerful seat.
The post has generated some debate after MPs from Luo-Nyanza initiated a campaign aimed at locking out what they perceived as old guards.
Outgoing Secretary-General Anyang’ Nyong’o chose not to defend the position he held since 2007.
The MPs have also demanded that the position and that of the National Vice-Chairman should be a preserve of the region, from where the party and its leader enjoy almost fanatical support. The MPs were opposed to the post of Secretary-General being given to a candidate from the Coast.
Party Leader Raila Odinga is said to favour Zani and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to take up the SG and National Deputy Party Leader positions respectively.
However some Luo leaders who were interested in vying for key positions accused Odinga of forcing them out the race for various party positions.
MPs Millie Odhiambo (Mbita), Sylvance Osele (Kasipul Kabondo), David Ochieng’ (Ugunja), Kenneth Okoth (Kibra), Ken Obura (Kisumu Central), John Mbadi (Suba) and Augustine Neto (Ndhiwa), who form a group that had fashioned themselves the ‘Young Turks’ agitating for change of guard in the ODM leadership on Tuesday announced their withdrawal from the race for various posts including that of Secretary-General.
“There is nobody who has been bullied; I have not heard or seen anyone who has been bullied. How can you be bullied when you have not even returned your nomination papers? How can you be bullied out of a rumour?” said Nominated MP Isaac Mwaura after returning his papers for the seat of Deputy Secretary General which has also attracted Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandai.
ODM Executive Director Magerer Langat also refuted claims of intimidation.
Odinga is almost certain to retain his seat as Party Leader, even as he stares down a challenge from Dagoretti North Simba Arati.
Under the ODM Constitution, the party leader becomes its automatic presidential candidate in case of elections.
Meanwhile, Funyula MP Paul Otuoma, Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok, South Mugirango’s Manson Nyamweya, Isaac Mwilu Mwau and Tigana East Mburi Apuri have been cleared for the post of National Chairman which is currently held by former Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey.
Kosgey has maintained a low profile after he lost the Nandi Senate race in last year’s General Election.
There was earlier an attempt by the party to convince former Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende to replace Kosgey in the seat.
The Treasurer’s position is also hotly contested with Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire ready to square it out with his Bomachoge Chache counterpart Simon Ogari. The seat is currently held by Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno but in an acting capacity.
National Vice Chairman seat has attracted only two contestants after the Rongo MP, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and Senate Minority Deputy Whip Janet Ongera withdrew their bid leaving Homabay Senator Otieno Kajwang to battle it out with Eldas MP Adan Keynan.
Former Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa and former Athi Water Service Board chairman Reuben Ndolo will renew their rivalry when they both go for the Organising Secretary’s position.
Some 3,054 delegates will elect new national party officials during a conference to be held on February 28 to March 1 at the Safaricom Gymnasium, Kasarani.
All posts are filled during the National Delegates Conference, attended by 95 MPs and 16 Senators, 17 Governors and their deputies, 30 National Executive Council members, 564 members from the party’s 210 branches, 840 members from sub-branches, 979 women and 277 youth representatives respectively.
The Party’s Executive Director explained that they are using 210 constituencies because they had not held elections in the extra 80 constituencies which were demarcated by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission prior to the 2013 General Election.