Raila: We are unshaken by Ababu, Otuoma exit
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga on Thursday dismissed the resignations of two of his most prominent backers in the former Western Province, insisting that the party’s support remains intact.
Mr Odinga also announced a tour of the region from July 18 to counter the effect of the resignations of Paul Otuoma as vice-chairman, and Secretary-General Ababu Namwamba, who cited frustrations by the party leadership.
In a telephone interview, Mr Odinga accused Jubilee of targeting ODM and Cord, the alliance in which he is one of the three co-principals, in its strongholds of western Kenya, Coast, Kisii and the eastern region.
He predicted further political shifting ahead of next year’s General Election, but said newer aspirants were joining ODM to replace those leaving.
As confirmation of the tension that existed before Mr Namwamba and Dr Otuoma quit, several MPs from the Nyanza region said they had warned Mr Odinga about Mr Namwamba’s loyalty ahead of the disrupted party poll and even when a deal was reached to share out the seats.
Their reactions came a day after Mr Namwamba led ODM delegates in his Budalang’i constituency in castigating the party as he announced his resignation.
As a sign of what was to come, Mr Namwamba and his supporters spotted white attire instead of the traditional orange of ODM.
Mr Odinga said Mr Namwamba and Funyula MP Dr Otuoma would be replaced. The former Prime Minister refuted claims that he had made it difficult for the duo to operate.
He added: “It is not that someone is being chased away. They have to look for excuses to find their way out of the party. This is nothing that is not expected.
“As you approach an election, people have to look at their positions and make decisions. It has always happened since 1992 (when the country adopted multi-party politics).”
He said he had asked his supporters to desist from trading words with the two so as to deny them the excuse to leave ODM.
“We don’t want people to use bullets now but to wait for the real time,” said Mr Odinga. “You need to look beyond the excuses and get the real reasons somebody wants to leave. The truth will come out for all to see.”
Urging his allies to remain calm, he said the exit of the two Busia County leaders had not affected his support in the region.
“I am not shaken,” he said. “If anything, the ground is stronger. We are getting fresh people to replace those who want to leave. Our team is intact.”
Mr Namwamba had accused Mr Odinga of betraying him despite assuring him of his blessings and support when he sought his advice to vie for secretary-general, claiming he was an unwanted candidate to people close to Mr Odinga.
Dr Otuoma had resigned days earlier, also citing frustration. The two were supported by fellow MPs John Waluke (Sirisia), Wilbur Ottichilo (Emuhaya), Andayi Andola (Khwisero), Silverse Anami (Shinyalu), Chris Omulele (Luanda), Dorcas Kedogo (Vihiga) and Geoffrey Odanga (Matayos).
But MPs Opondo Kaluma (Homa Bay), Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu East), James Nyikal (Seme), Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) and Gideon Ochanda (Bondo) said they had warned Mr Odinga about Mr Namwamba.
Sources said those planning Mr Odinga’s trip will parade the rivals of those departing to prove alternative leadership to the Namwamba-Otuoma camp.