Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is to hold a Parliamentary Group meeting to discuss the potentially destructive rivalry building up between supporters of party leader Mr Raila Odinga and his deputy Mr Musalia Mudavadi.

Deputy Minister Musalia Mudavadi (left) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. ODM leaders are preparing for a PG meeting on Mudavadi

They are also expected to come up with an official party position on plans by Attorney General Githu Muigai and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mr Keriako Tobiko to re-open 5,000 post election violence case files for domestic trials.

Sources told The Standard on Sunday that due to the perception Raila and Mudavadi are pulling apart, something that could split the party; an urgent Parliamentary Group meeting is to be convened this week.

It is expected that Mudavadi will explain his sudden robust campaign for ODM’s top seat, amid the perception that he is bruising for a fight with the PM to clinch the party’s presidential flag bearer tag.

Sources in the party say there is suspicion that, although it is Mudavadi’s right to speak and fight for any seat, he could have been set up against Raila by the PM’s rivals outside ODM, and that is why his language and style has changed.

At the same time at a meeting between Raila and Maasai leaders led by Heritage minister William ole Ntimama and John Nkaissery on Sunday, the PM for the first time hinted there was an external hand in what was going on in the party.

He pointed out that ODM members have appreciated that any internal bickering would send their ‘enemies’ into celebration.

Curious demand

But to cap the day, the Maasai leaders curiously demanded that the party’s presidential ticket, which Raila and Mudavadi are eyeing, should be given to the PM without contest, because he has what it takes to win the main race.

“When we meet as a PG, we will expect Musalia to tell us why he suddenly he feels he is better than party leader Raila Odinga,” revealed Assistant Minister Magerer Lang’at.

Meanwhile, Mudavadi continued with his campaign at the Coast over the weekend as Raila went to Machakos.

On Sunday Raila met Maasai leaders in Ongata Rongai, while Mudavadi was in Lugari attending the burial of former MP, Apili Wawire.

Magerer, an ardent supporter of the PM, claimed a “silent majority’ in the party is of the view that PM’s known political competitors are fronting Mudavadi.

“There is an unwritten political law that a leader in office is always given a chance to defend his position unless he opts out. Raila should have been left to run without any challenge from genuine party members who agree with his strong leadership principals. What wrong has Musalia seen in his leader?” asked Magerer.

Raila’s shortfalls

The Kipkelion MP said during the PG, the Sabatia MP would also be asked to explain Raila’s shortfalls that have now, “forced him to put up a strong campaign to take away the party leadership from him”.

Magerer, who is also the Energy Assistant Minister, said it was clear that Raila’s rivals (Eldoret North MP) William Ruto and (Deputy Prime Minister) Uhuru Kenyatta were the hidden hand in the DPM’s intensive and aggressive campaigns.

East African Cooperation Minister Musa Sirma confirmed to The Standard that the PG meeting would be held in the middle of the week.

“Top on the agenda of the PG meeting would be the decision by DPP to re-open the files pertaining to minor post-election violence offenders,” explained Sirma.

Sirma explained there was concern and suspicion that the cases would be used to harass, arrest and prosecute innocent youths.

“We want to deliberate on the matter and take a common position before giving our supporters across the country the direction we are taking,” Sirma said on the phone.

Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, who is ODM Parliamentary Group Secretary, said the exact date of the PG would be confirmed on Monday and added the question of the 5,000 case files would be discussed.

“This is a matter of national concern and it will definitely be discussed during the meeting,” Namwamba said.

Many ODM top leaders to have expressed reservations on Mudavadi’s candidature include Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo. Speaking in Machakos on Saturday, Ntimama said it was “pure hypocrisy” for any ODM leader to take on Raila in ODM.

Cabinet Minister Franklin Bett was also quoted expressing fear that ODM delegates still sympathetic to Ruto, who has since left the party, in Rift Valley, were likely to support Mudavadi so as to weaken Raila.

Propaganda

But Vihiga MP Yusuf Chanzu and his Belgut counterpart, Mr Charles Keter, who is with Ruto in United Republican Party, dismissed the claims as campaign propaganda aimed at scaring Mudavadi.

“Ruto’s supporters do clean politics. We have moved to a new party, URP and there is nothing (left) for us in ODM. If the Raila camp is feeling Mudavadi’s heat, let them deal with it without dragging Ruto and Uhuru into it,” said Keter.

He said the delegates were elected to their positions for being ODM members and will not be influenced by Ruto’s URP.

He, however, said, “if they were given a choice between Mudavadi and Raila, it is obvious they would vote for Mudavadi, but that is not the situation now since Ruto is still in the race to State House.”

Chanzu dismissed claims of Ruto’s or Uhuru’s hand in Mudavadi’s resurgence as propaganda, which must be ignored.

“That is cheap propaganda. Ruto and Uhuru’s supporters are currently not bona fide ODM members,’’ he added.

“They are either URP or PNU or even Kanu. Only bone fide delegates will be allowed to vote during the ODM presidential nominations,’’ argued Chanzu.

By Beautah Omanga and Vitalis Kimutai, The Standard

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