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Luo Elders warn Raila to keep off Council affairs

A group of elders from the Luo community have told Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party Leader Raila Odinga to keep off the affairs of the Luo Council of Elders.

The elders expressed concern the politician’s involvement in the operations of the outfit will jeopardise some of the gains it has made over the years.

The elders said politics should not be introduced in their affairs and Mr Odinga, being a politician, should not meddle in activities of the council, especially on leadership positions.

Leadership at the Luo council of elders began in 1945 when the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Raila’s father) became the first ker (title of the leader) before others took over the same position.

But there have been wrangles in the elders team as there are parallel groups claiming to control it.

One group is led by Ker Nyandiko Ongadi while the other was headed by Wilis Otondi who died in February.

Plans are underway to replace Otondi but the first group is opposed this and have threatened to mover to court to stop any attempt to replace the deceased elder.

Split in the council started in 2015 when the ninth Ker Riaga Ogallo died.

Mr Ongadi who was then an official at the outfit was put as the leader by a group of senior citizens drawn from different counties across Nyanza .

Meanwhile Mr Odinga who is the patron of the group officiated an event at Sony Grounds in Migori where Otondi was installed as the parallel leader of the council.

Ever since there has been an internal war among Luo elders on who should be at the helm as senior citizens align themselves to the two sides.

Announcement by Mr Odinga that there will be an election to replace Otondi after June 10,2023, has angered Mr Ongadi and his group who have told the opposition leader to restrain from the affairs of the council.

Mr Odinga, at a meeting with a group of senior citizens in Kisumu last week said selected elders from different sub-counties in Luo Nyanza will make the decision on who will succeed Otondi.

He plans to lead elders to Otondi’s grave before holding a meeting with the same group where selection of the new leader will be done.

He said the council is an important institution in the society as it guides in matters culture and traditions.

But Mr Ondadi and his group opposed this saying they will not let the ODM leader control activities of the council and faulted him for not respecting senior citizens.

They accused Mr Odinga of dividing the council and the Luo community by dictating to elders what they should do.

Mr Ongadi insisted that he is the bona fide leader of the group and no election should be done to have another person in the same position.

According to the senior citizen, he holds the registration documents of the outfit and no one should claim to lead the group.

He added that he files tax returns of the council every year meaning the state recognizes the institution with him being the leader.

“The government recognizes me as Ker. I hold all valid documents which were used to register the outfit at the office of the register of societies and the Attorney General’s office,” Mr Ongadi claimed.

Election in the council is conducted when its leader dies.

Other factors may also be considered for the same.

Should there be an election as planned to replace Otondi, Mr Ongadi said they will not recognise the other group.

He said the parallel outfit will be like an opposition checking on the government.

According to Mr Ongadi, there is no vacuum in the council that warrants anyone to call for an election.

“Council rules dictates that I am the one who should call for a meeting to decide the future of the group. This may happen if I am opposed by members and they need a new leader,” he said.

The elder told the Luo community that his team is ready to unite the society and asked for support to do their duties as traditionally required.

Council members Okinyi Rao and Ariko Adoyo said introducing politics into the council not only affects their operations but also slows down development in Luo Nyanza.

Mr Rao questioned the interest of Mr Odinga in the council arguing that his father, Jaramogi, did not at any time meddle in the affairs of the council when he joined politics.

“Jaramogi worked with former council leaders without any problems. Why must Raila be the one who causes all the problems we are facing?” he passed.

Mr Adoyo said elders from anywhere have the freedom to hold meetings.

He however warned splitter groups against using the council identity to hold gatherings.

“Not all elders are members of the council. It means using the group’s name to hold a meeting is illegal and punishable by law,” Mr Adoyo said.

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