ODM rebel MPs to form anti-Raila 'liberation group'

DP Gachagua hosts Azimio MPs

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua when he hosted ODM MPs Phelix Odiwuor (Lang’ata), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Paul Abuor (Rongo), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo) and Tom Ojienda (Senator, Kisumu) at his Harambee House Annex office on Friday. 

Photo credit: Courtesy | DPPS

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga is facing a fresh rebellion in his Nyanza backyard as rebel lawmakers mull forming of a ‘liberation group’ to cut him down to size with the help of President William Ruto’s administration.

The name has reportedly been coined to symbolise plans to “liberate” the region from Mr Odinga’s grip.

The President has been reaching out to opposition MPs to neutralise Mr Odinga amid his calls for resistance against the Kenya Kwanza administration.

Dr Ruto has held talks and won over former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee MPs and he is also courting some ODM lawmakers from Nyanza whom Mr Odinga has since branded as “rebels” not committed to his cause.

Mr Kenyatta, who chairs the Azimio coalition’s top decision-making organ — The Council, last Saturday pledged his loyalty to Mr Odinga and recognised him as his leader, insisting that he would stand by him.

However, Dr Ruto seems to be succeeding in scuttling the opposition coalition following recent changes in Jubilee which saw the President’s allies’ take over the former ruling party.

In Nyanza, Nation established that the Head of State has also engineered a plan to rally Mr Odinga’s close allies to his fold to neutralise his resistance against the government.

The ‘liberation group’ is reportedly chaired by Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda with Lang’ata MP Phelix Odiwuor alias Jalang’o as its secretary.

Yesterday, Mr Ochanda who was last Monday ejected as ODM branch secretary and replaced by East Yimbo MCA Francis Otiato at an event presided over by Siaya Senator Oburu Oginga, fell short of declaring the existence of the ‘liberation group’ in the region.

Whereas the MP revealed that his counterparts who attended the State House meeting had not started a rebellion, the current circumstances would force them to do so.

“We haven’t gone that direction yet. Not yet, but can’t be ruled out under the circumstances,” Mr Ochanda said.

Kisumu East MP Shakeel Shabbir, an Independent MP who was also among the Nyanza lawmakers who attended the State House meeting, however, told Nation he was aware of a caucus chaired by Mr Ochanda.

“I am not in the caucus but I know Ochanda is the chairman. I was told that he is the chairman of the caucus but I even told the President at the time that I had come to meet him as an Independent and not as a member of any caucus,” Mr Shabbir said.

Yesterday, Mr Odiwuor refused to comment on the allegations he was a member of the ‘liberation group’ even as Uriri MP Mark Nyamita insisted they were firmly in ODM.

“Our visit to State House was well intended, we will continue engaging different levels of government with a clear conscience on matters development. As for politics the only liberation movement we belong to is ODM,” said Mr Nyamita.

Other MPs who attended the State House meeting are Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Caroli Omondi (Suba South) and Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda. They have all also distanced themselves from the group.

Mr Odhiambo said the claims that he has joined the ‘liberation group’ is a big lie while Mr Omondi termed it as “absolute nonsense on stilts.”

“That’s propaganda. There is nothing like that,” said Prof Ojienda even as Rongo MP Paul Abuor refused to comment on the matter.

Political observers believe the simmering rebellion against Mr Odinga in the region is as a result of his possible retirement from politics.

Multimedia University lecturer Gitile Naituli argues that even Mr Odinga’s recent green light to his allies to welcome the President to his Nyanza backyard before he declared resistance against Dr Ruto’s administration was a tactical retreat to ensure the rebels do not take credit for any successful outcome.

“Ruto’s propaganda machine wanted ODM to boycott and then portray ODM as anti-development,” he said.