Monday, July 28, 2008



Monday, July 28, 2008
By Obadiah Ayoti
Kenya times

PRIME Minister and ODM leader Raila Odinga may find some comfort in the accolades which rate him the top government performer but within the party rank and file, he is a man subtly under siege. Barely four months after the grand coalition government was formed amid high expectations, there is growing anxiety within a section of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ranks that had expected to benefit from the new power-sharing arrangement.

And now Prime Minister Raila Odinga is being seen in some quarters as having been given a raw deal since he is yet to meet expectations of supporters who had provided key campaign support. An inside ODM source was derisive in perspective, saying Raila’s role has been reduced to that of a master of ceremonies at a grand party where he can only coordinate events and make announcements but cannot influence proceedings in any significant direction.

In essence, the discontented voices in ODM are saying that ODM’s participation in the coalition has been thrown to the periphery by President Mwai Kibaki who still wields too much power and influence despite having agreed to share power equally with the Premier as stipulated by the National Accord and Reconciliation Act.

The worried voices in ODM who are mostly MPs claim that about four months down the road since Raila was sworn in, his office is not fully functional either by design or default, saying that it is a sham for a portfolio of that stature to have only four members of staff who include the Permanent Secretary Mohammed Isahakia.

Other staffers at the Office of the Prime Minister are Administration Secretary Caroli Omondi, Protocol Officer Tony Gachoka and Personal Assistant to the PM, Maj (Rtd) Mohammed Idris.

But whereas some people within ODM blame the failure to recruit staff to the PM’s office on infighting among Raila’s close allies allegedly engaged in superiority contest, others say it falls within the bigger picture where few of those who had expected to benefit from high government appointments have seen any appointments.

They question why those who had been top strategists and ODM supporters have not been appointed to ambassadorial and parastatal positions as stipulated under the accord."Real power sharing meant to us sharing all appointments, including ambassadorial and parastatal positions. Why has President Kibaki retained all the positions after the signing of the accord?" posed a disenchanted ODM legislator.

Buoyed by the zero tolerance to corruption pledge ODM made in the run up to last year’s general election and now that Raila assumed the strategic coordination and supervisory role of government affairs. The key supporters, including some MPs are now questioning who handles graft, economic, political and human resource affairs in his office since there have been no appointments made.

The issue of the shaky secretariat featured prominently during the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) held in May at Safari Park hotel with members demanding an explanation from the PM.

In an effort seen to address themselves to discontent within the party, Rift Valley MPs have called for a meeting on Wednesday this week to strategise on how to put the ODM house in order so as to deliver the promises it made to Kenyans. Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto, one of the dissenting voices, confirmed the Wednesday meeting, but could not divulge its agenda.

A similar meeting for Luo Nyanza MPs held on July, 9 at a Nairobi hotel failed to solve the issues bedeviling the Orange party, leaving the 12 legislators who attended to mandate Joshua Ojodeh to seek an appointment with Raila.Ojodeh is reported to have presented the memorandum from the Luo MPs to Raila before he jetted out of the country for an official visit to the UK. The PM is yet to respond to the MPs’ concerns.

But when sought for comment yesterday, Ojodeh declined to comment on the issue and referred our enquiry to the PM himself.But assistant minister and Belgut MP Charles Keter came to the defense of Raila, insisting that the PM’s office was still new and ought to be given more time to organise itself.More In Print Edition