Kenya: Raila’s acts to save the ODM party from crumbling

By Samuel Ouma

Prime Minister Raila Odinga with Senator James Orengo .Photo credit Emmanuel Wanson, Standard

Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday met Senator James Orengo amid fallout claims over the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2020, popularly known as Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

The meeting was also attended by the ODM’s deputy party leader Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu.

The AU special envoy did not indicate the agenda of the meeting but term it as lunch.

“I had a great chat this morning with Governor @mamangilu and @GovWOparanya together with Senator @orengo_james whom I hosted for brunch,” read Odinga’s tweet.

Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party is divided into two groups, a move that could derail the party’s performance in the next year’s general elections.

A faction led by Senator Orengo is pushing for the Bill’s amendment. In contrast, the other group led by the party’s chairman John Mbadi wants the document to be subjected to the referendum the way it is.

Orengo has questioned the Bill’s authenticity and poked nose into the legality and distribution of the proposed 70 new constituencies. His claims have been supported by Governor Oparanya, lawmaker Otiende Amollo, etc.

However, the lawyer has been accused by ODM’s comrades of leading a rebellion against Odinga, branding him a rebel.

“Orengo co-chaired the committee that produced the final BBI. He cannot turn around now to say that that we didn’t agree on this or that. He cannot run away from his baby. He is essentially trying to disown a document he himself, by the virtue of being a co-captain, authored. It is the height of political dishonesty,” said the National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed.

Last week on Tuesday, Orengo’s ally Otiende was kicked out of the influential Justice and Legal Affairs Committee for opposing the BBI Bill. This led to rumors that Orengo is the next to be ousted as Leader of the Minority in the Senate.

In response to rumors, the attorney said he would not be intimidated, vowing to continue performing his duties and speaking his mind.

“I can never be intimated in my political life because I have seen many people come and go, I have seen many powerful people come and go.  I have seen Presidents come here and go. I have seen people who on their words you will leave this house and be locked in the same day, they have come and gone,” said Orengo.

Through a statement sent to media houses by Odinga’s spokesperson Dennis Onyango, the ODM party dismissed the allegations stating that there is no plot to replace the Senator.

“We wish to clarify that Rt. Hon Raila Odinga, the ODM Party Leader and the Orange Democratic Movement have no plans to replace Senator James Orengo as the Leader of Minority in the Senate,” read part of the statement.

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