The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party continues to face turbulence over the position taken by some party bigwigs who want amendments on certain clauses in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill before it’s approved by Parliament.
Siaya Senator James Orengo and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo as well as Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni, who co-chaired the joint Parliamentary team that considered the Bill, feel that certain clauses should be amended before the Bill is subjected to a referendum.
BBI secretariat co-chairman Mr Junet Mohammed, who also doubles up as the ODM Director of elections, has however, accused Mr Orengo of trying to disown a document he helped fine-tune as co-committee chairman alongside National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya.
“He cannot turn around now to say we didn’t agree on this or that. He cannot run away from his baby,” said Mr Mohammed.
But the differences in the party seem not to be ending soon after ODM National Treasurer Mr Timothy Bosire on Sunday threw his weight behind the Orengo faction.
Mr Bosire says that there is need to make certain amendments to the Bill, especially on the allocation of 70 new constituencies to avoid disenfranchising some regions.
“We can’t say yes because our seniors have said so. With respect to our seniors for what they do, we must point out certain mistakes. The issue of additional 70 new constituencies remains thorny and contentious. They were wrongly allocated and the Orengo team wants to ensure the anomaly is corrected,” said Mr Bosire.
He said legislators are the eyes of the public and if they point out anomalies in the Bill, they should not be vilified and labelled as traitors.
“We should not be like zombies in Parliament because parliamentarians help articulate technical issues that ordinary mwananchi cannot see. We should not hurry like Kenya is ending tomorrow,” added Mr Bosire.
He added: “With respect to our seniors and more so the president (Uhuru Kenyatta) and (former) Prime Minister (Raila Odinga) on the good intention they have for this country.”
“Certain changes were made to the Bill without their knowledge and these must be corrected,” added.
He pointed out that certain amendments that would change the structure of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had been altered. He said that leaders must not ignore calls by legislators for certain changes to the Bill.
“Certain things were not done in good faith and we cannot just close our eyes and see them through when we know the consequences thereafter.”
“I therefore support the position Mr Orengo and his colleagues have taken, and indeed I have been in constant touch with them. We have to do it right, not in the interest of a section of the country but all Kenyans,” said Mr Bosire.
He said Mr Orengo’s team was addressing a fundamental issue that should not be overlooked.
“Out of the 70 new constituencies almost 40 belong to one community and that’s not fair when there is over concentration of resources in those areas when others are worse than before independence. That’s not the way to go.”
ODM, he noted, is premised on social democracy “and does not have robots but brains capable of identifying problems and solving them.”
The fresh uproar in ODM especially pitting Mr Orengo against some party stalwarts rekindles old days when Mr Orengo clashed with Mr Odinga on ideological issues.
During the succession battle in Ford-Kenya party following the death of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Mr Odinga’s father, Mr Orengo sided with Kijana Wamalwa and some people around him still view him with suspicion.
They also parted ways in 2002 elections when he ran for presidency on SDP ticket as Mr Odinga backed Mr Mwai Kibaki before the ODM leader came to his rescue in 2007 after a protracted political battle for Ugenya seat that pitted him against current Jubilee Regional Director for Kiambu County, Mr Steve Mwanga.
Mr Mwanga claimed he beat Mr Orengo for the ODM ticket in 2007 but his victory was stolen in favour of the Senior Counsel.
Some ODM supporters have said there could be more than meets the eye in the current storm in the party.
But ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna downplayed claims of division in the party, insisting that members “are all united behind one leader – Raila Odinga.”