MPs allied to Eldoret North MP William Ruto yesterday said they had relinquished their positions in ODM and will not be involved in the grassroots elections this week. The ODM rebel MPs said they are no longer interested in the affairs of the party led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny said MPs who were branch chairmen for ODM in Rift Valley have quit their positions and have no interest in the elections starting on Wednesday at location level and ending up in County polls on Friday. Kutuny said that ODM has ceased to exist in Rift Valley and that the party is irrelevant with or without the elections.
He said Ruto who has been Deputy Party Leader in ODM has officially relinquished the position. “Everyone is waiting for UDM elections because that is our party. We are not even aware that ODM is to have elections,” said Kutuny. He spoke as Ruto refuted allegations that he plans to plant his sympathisers as candidates in the ODM grassroots elections.
Ruto says he had already made a decision to quit the party and those making such claims are dreaming. “Those who think we are interested in interfering in their affairs are mistaken, we don’t believe in such tactics,” he said. The Eldoret North lawmaker said he is building his own party after quitting ODM. “I believe in building my own party and let other do theirs too, we will meet at the ballot and square it out,” he added.
Raila allies had claimed that UDM is planning to plant its sympathisers in key positions in the ODM elections. “We have known their scheme and we will not allow them to do so. We have information that UDM plans to have its people infiltrate the elections in the South Rift among other regions,” said one of the ODM officials in Rift Valley Samuel Chemweno.
However Kutuny said UDM has no such plans because ODM is not a threat to them. “We cannot plant our people in a party that does not exist. That will be a waste of time and we have better things to do.” Chemweno said they are well prepared for the polls to strengthen ODM ahead of the 2012 elections.
The UDM has already started its grassroots polls mostly within the Rift Valley region which have generated political heat. The MPs allied to Ruto and those against are struggling to control the UDM branches. Ruto will be seeking to vie for presidency through UDM which is however still dogged by legal battles over its ownership. Kutuny said the Ruto group has already built UDM into a strong political movement and there is no turning back.
Other MPs including Jackson Kiptanui of Keiyo South, Peris Simam of Eldoret South and Elijah Lagat of Emugwen also said they are not interested in the ODM elections. Yesterday ODM National Elections Board (NEB) secretary Joseph Misoi said the party had ordered the County returning officers to hold a consultative meeting today. He said the meeting will iron out any underlining issues to avoid incidents of violence during the four-day polls.
Misoi warned that any candidate found to have engaged in violence will be disqualified, adding that “there will be no sacred cows.” “The party has ordered the returning officers to hold consultative meetings today where they will take members through the election rules and guidelines to ensure the exercise is free, fair and devoid of violence,” Misoi added.