ALLIES of Prime Minister Raila Odinga are now claiming that Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi is plotting his exit from ODM. Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang, speaking on behalf of several ODM MPs, said Mudavadi was now looking for excuses to walk out of the party. “What we have seen is that the issue is no longer about the nomination rules but a blame game that these rules favour so and so. You cannot make that claim unless you have ulterior motives. He is looking for a scapegoat to run away,” said Kajwang
Kajwang is known to be close to Raila and his views are thought to represent the thinking of those closest to the PM. But yesterday Mudavadi through his spokesman Kibisu Kabatesi said the insinuation that he was planning to quit ODM was a lie. “There is not time have we plotted to leave ODM. It’s only in the hearts of people like Kajwang that we are planning to move,” Kabatesi added.
Regional Development Minister Fred Gumo tried to play down the emerging split. “I want to assure everyone that there is no fighting in ODM and those spreading the rumours do not even belong to the party, they are only interfering,” he said. Gumo said Raila had publicly declared he will support Mudavadi should he win the nomination and that Mudavadi had also promised his support to Raila if he became the ODM presidential candidate.
Allies of Raila and Musalia disagreed on Monday during the party's National Executive Committee meeting after it emerged that a little known clause in the party constitution might automatically make Raila the ODM presidential nominee. According to a report by the ODM legal committee appointed last October to amend the party's election and nomination rules, the party leader automatically becomes the party's presidential candidate.
Article 6.2.1 (a) and (b) of the party constitution states, “The Party Leader shall be the Party’s Presidential Candidate nominated by the party to contest on the party’s ticket at the Presidential elections due in the next national general elections.” Raila was re-elected party leader in 2008 for a term of five years so the legal committee argued that he should be the automatic candidate up to 2013.
Mudavadi, the ODM deputy leader, has for several weeks been criss-crossing the country canvassing for support as the party's presidential nominee. He has been demanding that the choice be conducted in a free and fair manner. “We must make proposals for nominations not out of spite and attempts to outmaneuver each other, but as honest ideas to strengthen the party," said Mudavadi who favours a collegiate system at the county level while Raila prefers the traditional national delegates conference to choose the party candidate.
Mudavadi's allies are now demanding that the ODM constitution be amended to allow other candidates to compete for the presidential ticket. Yesterday Kajwang accused Mudavadi of precipitating a crisis, where he quits claiming that the party nomination rules are undemocratic and favour one person. “This presupposes that yours is not an intention to compete from within but to break the party,” Kajwang added.
Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba said a Mudavadi exit would not kill the party. “ODM will remain strong even if Mudavadi left. Kalonzo left ODM, it remained strong. William Ruto left, we are still strong. Even if Mudavadi were to go, ODM will not be shaken,” Namwamba said. Namwamba, the parliamentary group secretary for ODM, said that the party was not about any individual but structures. “Anybody suggesting that the DPM is plotting to quit is running scared and is probably afraid of competition. Both Raila and Mudavadi have committed themselves to internal competition,” said Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka, Yesterday Kajwang said that if Mudavadi was genuine in his quest, he had two options to cater for his interests. “The Hon Mudavadi can either challenge the party leader for the position and be nominated, or seek an amendment to the clause,” he added.