Some ‘rebel’ Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs who chose to work with President William Ruto have vowed to organise ‘serious’ public rallies to marshal support for the Kenya Kwanza government.
The MPs, who in February went against Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s directive and met President Ruto at State House, have been facing incessant attacks from their ODM colleagues.
The team met the President again on Tuesday afternoon.
During the two State House meetings, the President met Dr Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Mr Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Mr Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Mr Paul Abuor (Rongo), Mr Felix Odiwuor ‘Jalang’o’ (Lang’ata), Mr Mark Nyamita (Uriri) and Kisumu Senator Prof Tom Ojienda.
Also present were ICT and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo and Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo.
From incitement on the ground by other leaders to party disciplinary processes, the rebel MPs have been facing many challenges in their quest to ‘emancipate’ the region.
However, they say they don’t regret their move, maintaining it is for the benefit of their constituents.
Immediately they met the Head of State, there was tension in their constituencies, with some of them keeping off functions held by ODM in their areas for a while, before they started holding their own meetings to explain their move to locals.
However, the ‘rebels’ deny facing hostility on the ground, saying they have been holding public meetings, especially on weekends, with different groups in their constituencies.
Mr Nyamita said he has been holding at least 40 public gatherings weekly, either directly or indirectly.
“I am not facing any form of backlash from my people and that is why my engagement with them has not changed. I usually have at least 40 public gatherings every week with the people, done by myself or when I am not around, my officers, to talk about development and initiate various programmes,” he said.
The Uriri MP said his constituents have not found any reason to be hostile to him because he is delivering on his mandate, noting that that is why he is home every weekend.
Mr Nyamita said their meetings with the Head of State do not in any way mean they are undermining Mr Odinga.
“We are not ODM rebels. There is nothing illegal in meeting government officials because even those criticising us do the same at different levels. We, therefore, should not be attacked or viewed as undermining our party leader,” said Mr Nyamita.
Mr Odhiambo said he has been visiting every part of his constituency. “How can someone claim the ground is hostile to me in Gem. I have done many meetings, including gathering more than 1,500 boda boda riders at one go. As we expect to host the President, we are going to have more elaborate and bigger public gatherings to rally my people to welcome him,” he said.
Mr Omondi, who will host the President in Suba South, said he has been meeting various groups, dismissing claims they can’t move freely in their constituencies.
Dr Ochanda, however, accuses their ODM counterparts of trying to incite residents against them.
“I have been holding meetings with different groups, including teachers, and I have not faced any problem. In fact, my constituents have even become so receptive towards me. Some leaders are, however, trying to incite the public against us, but it is not working,” said Dr Ochanda.
However, the MPs vow to boldly support the government for the benefit of area residents.
The President is expected to be in Suba South and Karachuonyo constituencies on July 23. The next day he will be at Mr Odinga’s backyard of Gem and Bondo.
Dr Ruto will be hosted by Mr Omondi in Suba and later he will proceed to Oriwo Boys High School to attend the thanksgiving ceremony for Interior PS Omollo.
He will spend the night at the Kisumu State Lodge where he will be meeting a number of guests and elected leaders.