ODM leader Raila Odinga has rejected a push by some party leaders 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 .
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.
According to the Standard, Raila said 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.
The ODM leader also bluntly said there were some politicians who only embraced the March 9 “handshake” in the morning and opposed it in the afternoon.
“They embrace the war on corruption today, and display its proceeds tomorrow. They embrace national unity this week, and sow the seeds of discord the following week. ODM is not in that league,” said Raila. “We remain in Opposition. But we have taken a principled position that what is good for Kenya is good for ODM. The war on corruption is good for Kenya. We are in it fully. Lifestyle audit on leaders is good for Kenya. We are in it fully,” said Raila.
Raila also accepted to be vetted and a lifestyle audit performed on him. “Lifestyle audit on leaders is good for Kenya. Personally, I am ready for it. The vetting of procurement officers is good for Kenya. In fact, we pioneered it when we came to power in 2003 as NARC. We support it fully. And now, the corrupt are lost,” said Raila.
He cautioned ODM members against being distracted by succession politics and instead asked them to concentrate on building a brand new nation within this window of opportunity before it closes. 2022 campaigns “Are you worried that some people have started campaigning in earnest? Worry not. A transition is underway in Kenya, as the handshake bears tangible results in war on corruption and unity of communities,” Raila added.
He told members that ODM would be the party to defeat in the 2022 General Election. He said those against change were trying to cause confusion about the handshake and had instead embarked on early campaigns.