Sunday, September 7, 2008



September 7 2008
Sunday Nation

Mr Odinga told the MPs to stop murmuring and strengthen the party.
Disbanding the Pentagon and installing new national officials with Mr Odinga as the party leader among the agenda
Leaders said ODM was now strategising in readiness for 2012 elections to meet the promises made to Kenyans.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga Sunday read the riot act to rebel ODM MPs and asked them to toe the party line.

In what could be seen as a determined move to end division and discontent that has threatened to split the Orange party, Mr Odinga told the MPs to stop murmuring and strengthen the party.

The meeting supported ODM’s participation in the coalition government, but emphasised that the party must remain united as it strategises to secure power in 2012.

A hard-talking Mr Odinga did not mince words when he came face to face with the MPs, some of whom have been criticising his leadership and the party’s role in the Grand Coalition Government.

Criticise Raila

“If you want to criticise Raila, sema hapa hapa. Wacha kupiga kelele kwa magazeti (say it here and now. Stop making noise in the newspapers). I am a human being, not an angel nor God; I can make mistakes,” he said as he opened the two-day retreat for party MPs at Simba Lodge, Naivasha.

Mr Odinga came down heavily on the MPs as it emerged that the talks, which begun Sunday evening, aim at containing dissent and installing new officials.

Among the items on the agenda, the Nation learnt, was disbanding the Pentagon and installing new national officials with Mr Odinga as the party leader.

ODM is currently under a collective leadership of six representatives of key support blocs, Mr Odinga, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Cabinet ministers William Ruto, Najib Balala, Joseph Nyaga and Charity Ngilu.

It also has a team of registered officials, but they are anonymous figures with no clout. An ODM think-tank has been working long hours on seeking acceptable solutions to the growing discontent among its MPs.

According to some officials at its secretariat, the Pentagon will be replaced by a team of interim officials who will run the party until its hold its grassroots elections in order to comply with the Political Parties Act.

The plan, it is understood, is to make Mr Odinga the party leader and make Mr Ruto his deputy while Mr Mudavadi and Mr Balala take other senior positions. Sources said Mr Ruto will be taking a high profile position ahead of Mr Mudavadi so that he can contain Rift Valley MPs, who have been critical of the PM’s position on the Mau Forest and appointment of ministers, assistant ministers and permanent secretaries.

Became divided

Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, who has been at the forefront of the Grand Opposition initiative, may also be placated with a position in the new line-up.

Opening the Naivasha meeting, Mr Odinga responded to all the issues that have in the past been raised by dissenting MPs, and warned that he would not allow the party to be divided and killed.

“As we were negotiating, we were united, but after forming the Grand Coalition Government, we became divided. This is not going to be allowed,” he said.

And for the first time, Mr Odinga disclosed that ODM had been short-changed in the Grand Coalition it formed with PNU. Mr Odinga said negotiations between PNU and ODM before the formation of Grand Coalition went well, but things changed after it was formed.

The PM, who was meeting the MPs and other party members during first national governing council meeting since last year’s General Election, did not however specify how the party had been short-changed.