Friday, September 12, 2008



September 12, 2008
The Standard
By Abiya Ochola and Vincent Bartoo

With three months before ODM holds is Special National Delegates convention, there is subtle realignment pitting camps allied to Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Agriculture Minister William Ruto.

The campaign is said to be so intense that some of the MPs have now come out clearly on whom they want the ODM party leader and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to pick during the party’s convention in December.

The convention is set to ratify its constitution that will see the delegates either adopt or reject the position of the non-elective Deputy Party Leader.

Raila Odinga

According to the party’s Executive Director Ms Janet Ong’era, the NDC is necessitated by a requirement in the Political Parties Act that each party must put its house in order before the Act becomes fully operational on January 1, 2009.

Ong’era says it is the mandate of the party leader to pick his deputy come the NDC.

Although the NDC is held every five years, according to the ODM constitution, the issue of ccording to the ODM constitution, the issue of Raila’s running mate may become clearer at the convention.

However, MPs and party officials allied to the two ministers tore into each other over who should occupy the second senior-most position in the party.

Prominent position

Although Mudavadi was Raila’s running mate in the last General Election, he will not automatically be the deputy party leader — a window that the party’s Rift Valley politicians want to use to have Ruto ascend to a prominent position.

The stakes are high because the person Raila picks as deputy party leader will most likely — for continuity and harmony — be his running mate in 2012.

Rift Valley MPs want the post reserved for Ruto, but MPs from Western Province, Mudavadi’s backyard, say the Deputy Prime Minister is the automatic choice.
Musalia Mudavadi

As the debate raged, some MPs called for caution and challenged Mudavadi and Ruto to come out clearly and give direction before the differences boil over and lead to a major fallout.

As the two belligerent groups tore into each other, MPs viewed as moderates led by Bonchari MP Charles Onyancha demanded that, as a measure to stem the imminent fallout, Mudavadi and Ruto reach out to each other and resolve the matter amicably.

"The two are all capable but cannot occupy that office at the same time. They should meet as a matter of urgency and agree between them who should occupy the office ahead of the NDC," he said.

The supremacy battle between the two is huge and Onyancha predicts a fallout unless Raila intervenes.

"In the event that the Ruto-Mudavadi supremacy war is not resolved before the NDC, Raila should allow delegates to elect the deputy party leader to stem any fallout," said Onyancha.

But MPs from the Rift Valley have dug deep in their trenches, saying the position could not be negotiable and was theirs for taking.

Keiyo South MP Jackson Kiptanui says there would be no compromise.

"As Rift Valley, we have ceded too much in ODM to other regions. This time round we will not compromise and we expect other regions to back us," he said.

At the Naivasha party retreat last week, it had been presumed that Mudavadi would the obvious choice for deputy party leader but it later emerged that several MPs were uncomfortable with the Sabatia MP deputising Raila.

Up for grabs

The ODM secretariat confirmed that the position was up for grabs even though it is non-elective.

"The party constitution states that the party leader, who is the presidential candidate, will appoint the deputy party leader at the National Delegates Convention in December," said Ms Onge’ra when The Standard sought clarification on the position.

William Ruto.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny said Rift Valley residents were already piling pressure on Ruto to go for the post.

Kuttuny said Rift Valley MPs have come under heavy criticism from their supporters who feel shortchanged by ODM in sharing of power.

"It is only fair for Ruto to take up this post so that our supporters can at least be appeased," he added.

Emgwen MP Elijah Lagat said Ruto gave up the deputy Prime Minister’s post to Mudavadi.

"He angered many by giving up the seat but we now hope ODM will reward him for his generosity. Other regions (Western) should reciprocate and give him what is due to him," he said.

During the run-up to the formation of the Grand Coalition, there was immense pressure to have Raila appoint Ruto as Deputy PM.

Ruto’s allies argued that Western Province had already benefited from the slot of Attorney General (Amos Wako) and Speaker of the National Assembly (Kenneth Marende).

Several MPs from Western Province maintained that the position was non-negotiable.

Matungu MP David Were termed the demands by the Rift Valley MPs as "cheeky and misadvised".

Were said according to the party constitution, the Presidential candidate chooses the deputy party leader who is the running-mate in an election.

"Every Kenyan knows that Mudavadi was Raila’s running-mate and therefore the automatic deputy party leader," he said.

Mumias MP Ben Washiali said until the next elections, Mudavadi will be Raila’s deputy in all party matters.

"Mudavadi is Raila’s principal deputy in all matters where ODM is involved. This is not anything to hustle over unless someone has ulterior motives for the party," he said.

Washiali said Mudavadi came second during the ODM Presidential nominations, which formed the basis of who the deputy party leader was.


Another source in the party told The Standard that the Ruto axis had established elaborate lobbying machinery with key regional representatives being picked to spearhead the pro-Ruto campaign in the party hierarchy.

"Their mandate is to identify strong Ruto allies to contest for the grassroots elections. The delegates will then lobby Raila to naming Ruto," said the source.

The party will hold its grassroots elections on November 22 - 24 before holding the NDC in December.

Rift Valley parliamentary group secretary, David Koech who is also the Mosop MP called for patience.

"We have not met as Rift Valley MPs to discuss this matter. We should wait until the new party structure is approved since it is just a proposal," he said.

Keiyo North MP Lucas Chepkitony said MPs should first read the proposals on the new leadership structure before making a preference.

"We should read the proposals first, understand the duties of the deputy party leader and make a decision jointly as Rift Valley MPs," he said.