ODM leader Raila Odinga has rejected a push by some party leaders and members to punish party rebels campaigning for Deputy President William Ruto.
He also rejected proposals by some members to launch a presidential campaign to rival the DP’s forays across the country averring that such a move would be counter-productive.
The former Prime Minister said partisan politics would split the country and defeat the purpose of the March 9 political truce with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
All these went down yesterday in Mombasa when anxious members who convened for the party’s National Executive Committee cum-parliamentary group meeting raised pertinent questions about the state and future of the Building Bridges Initiative, Ruto’s campaigns and behavior of some ODM MPs, especially from the Coast, who had rallied to Ruto’s side.
Some members demanded guarantees that Raila and ODM were not being taken for a ride by Jubilee or that it was losing its identity and ideological edge vis a vis the other parties in light of the handshake.
Yet others demanded some action against rebels like Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori, Malindi’s Aisha Jumwa and Benjamin Tayari (Kinango) and Badi Twalib of Jomvu, who have been campaigning for Ruto.
But Raila said the party had other priorities.
“Raila told us that the likes of Dori are not issues that should distract us because there are more crucial pressing issues to discuss now like the state of the economy,” said an MP who attended the meeting.
According to the Standard, Raila felt the matter of disciplinary action against the rebels “is not an issue worth fighting for now because we have more important things to think about like electoral justice.”
Raila also felt it was inadvisable to embark on presidential campaigns “just because Ruto has begun his”, adding that the party needed to strengthen itself first and ensure electoral reforms were implemented.
According to the ODM leader, partisan campaigns in response to the DP would amount to undue legitimization of the Deputy President’s actions. He, apparently also argued that punishing errant MPs and embarking on presidential elections would polarize the country so soon after last year’s polls and defeat the purpose of the handshake.
Dori, Aisha, Owen Baya (Kilifi North) and Tayari did not attend the meeting. Reports indicate that Aisha said she was in Uganda while Tayari said he was “busy” with his constituents.
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