The Raila Odinga-led Orange Democratic Movement says it will push on with the fight for electoral justice, even without the backing of its opposition partners.
Mr Edwin Sifuna, who was on Friday named the party’s new secretary-general, on Wednesday said ODM will no longer be forced to shoulder its partners, and will instead focus on fighting what it said was a creeping dictatorship in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s rule.
“ODM will no longer apologise for being the biggest party, and having the biggest number of elected leaders,” Mr Sifuna told journalists at Orange House when he took over from Dr Agnes Zani who has been in the office in an acting capacity.
“We will no longer be forced to walk on our knees so that our short friends can feel better about themselves. We will also not discuss 2022 politics until we’ve finished issues of electoral justice in 2017 elections.”
The Odinga-led party has also asked its partners in Nasa to back its push to fight dictatorship.
“If fighting dictatorship is not in your genetic make-up, then leave this to us whose one and only role is to uproot the dictatorship, and enforce electoral justice,” said Mr Sifuna.
ODM has been on the receiving end after the January 30 ‘oath’ by Mr Odinga as the people’s president in an event skipped by co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula and Musalia Mudavadi.
Some leaders of other Nasa-affiliate parties have accused ODM of being a bully in the sharing of positions in Parliament.
After the January 30 Uhuru Park event, leaders allied to Messrs Musyoka, Wetang’ula and Mudavadi have increased calls to have ODM honour a 2017 agreement for Mr Odinga to back them in the 2022 presidential race.
In the press conference, Mr Sifuna was categorical that ODM will not talk about the 2022 race until the issues of the 2017 poll— an annulled presidential election, and a repeat election boycotted by Mr Odinga.
On the proposed bill by Kassait Kamket to establish the office of the executive prime minister, Mr Sifuna has said the party and the Nasa coalition was looking at the proposed law before taking a stand.
“We have showed our open support for a parliamentary system. We will look at the proposed law to see if it looks like anything we want, and then we will make a stand,” he said.
Mr Sifuna’s comments came as Mr Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress accused ODM of undermining other coalition partners.
ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula said ODM leaders were orchestrating a plan to renege on a coalition agreement on the 2022 presidential polls.
He said it would be wrong for Mr Odinga to abandon his co-principals in Nasa after they had sacrificed their ambitions to back him for presidency in 2017.
“The Nasa partner parties agreed to back Mr Odinga’s presidential bid in 2017 with the understanding that the party will not field a presidential candidate in 2022,” said Mr Savula.
The wrangles in the opposition were triggered by the failure of Nasa co principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula to show up at Mr Odinga’s swearing-in.
Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale has said it would be unacceptable for ODM to try and ignore the coalition agreement after Nasa co-principals had fully supported Mr Odinga’s presidential bid in 2017.
“We have a coalition agreement in place which clearly states that ODM, a partner party in the Nasa coalition, will not field a presidential candidate at the 2022,” said Mr Savula.
Mr Savula said ODM was acting in bad faith after Mr Odinga hinted last week that he would focus on strengthening the party in preparation for the 2022 presidential contest.
“Such a move by ODM would undermine the opposition coalition and is intended to give Mr Odinga another opportunity to contest the presidency in 2022 on ODM ticket at expense of his co-principals,” said Mr Savula.
“We are concerned about the unfolding scenario in the coalition after ODM leaders declared the party was preparing to go it alone at the next presidential polls. That would be an act of betrayal.”