What you need to know:
- Mr Odinga reported to be keen on crafting a new team of loyalists ahead of next year’s elections.
- At the centre of the latest cracks in the party are Mr Odinga’s closest confidants, Junet Mohamed and Senator James Orengo.
Mr Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is facing a tough test as the party leader’s foot soldiers fight for his attention amid reports he is reviewing his inner circle.
As 2022 political realignments take shape characterised by defections and loyalty shifts, sources in Mr Odinga’s ODM revealed to the Nation that the former Premier is keen on crafting a new team of loyalists ahead of next year’s elections, causing jitters in the camp.
At the centre of the latest cracks in the party, it has emerged, are Mr Odinga’s closest confidants: ODM Director of Elections and Campaigns Junet Mohamed and Senate Minority leader James Orengo.
The current debate on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in Parliament where Mr Odinga’s key allies have clashed over whether to amend the Bill — a development that has seen Mr Orengo and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo isolated — seems to have ignited tensions that have been simmering in the party.
At one point, ODM chairman John Mbadi clarified the party position to support the Bill in its entirety, his statement coming on the back of a parliamentary committee report for which Mr Orengo and Mr Amollo were signatories that branded sections of the Constitutional of Kenya (Amendment) Bill unconstitutional.
Mr Mohamed had 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 Mohamed.
Mr Orengo has, however, insisted that all is well. “I have not changed my position. I am not a hypocrite or a coward in politics,” he has said in response to critics.
Interviews with various ODM leaders yesterday revealed growing bad blood in the rank and file of the party that is now threatening to divide the 16-year-old outfit into two factions.
Former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, Mr Odinga’s first cousin, who is reportedly back to the fold after falling out in 2017, yesterday claimed there is a clique of Mr Odinga’s lieutenants who want to betray him and must be kicked out of his inner circle.
“They belong to the group that want Raila to retire from politics. But we won’t give them a chance because we are aware of their plot to betray him as they don’t want him to be President,” Mr Midiwo claimed during an interview with KBC’s Mayienga FM yesterday.
Yesterday, ODM National Treasurer Timothy Bosire threw his weight behind Mr Orengo.
“Orengo and his colleagues are addressing a fundamental issue that we should not overlook. 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,” Mr Bosire told the Nation.
But apart from the differences occasioned by the BBI Bill, local politics in Nyanza is also said to be fuelling divisions.
Mr Orengo is now said not to see eye-to-eye with ODM Director of Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi, who alongside Mr Mohamed and Mr Mbadi are among Mr Odinga’s closest allies.
Mr Odinga’s handshake with President Kenyatta, which has seen the entry of new players into his inner core like Jubilee Vice-Chairman David Murathe, Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli, Coast-based businessman Suleiman Shahbal, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, politician Kamau Njeha and the ODM leader’s younger daughter Winnie Odinga, is also said to be triggering the realignments.
On Saturday night Mr Wandayi and Mr Mohamed met Mr Odinga and displayed photos of the meeting as they sought to assure the public on where Mr Odinga’s heart is in the current political squabbles in the party.
Mr Orengo and Mr Amollo, keen to wriggle themselves out of the growing storm, over the weekend pushed back against the narrative that they were hurting Mr Odinga’s cause. They declared they were fully behind the BBI.