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On his way to Ahero Multi-purpose Center, Wakili Fred Odumo Nying’uro Saturday morning held talks with officials of the Orange Democratic Movement ODM Party, Nyakach Branch at Plainsville Hotel.

Among the key points of discussion has been the laying of strategy as the party rolls out a massive membership recruitment drive.

Wakili also heard from the officials on areas that require improvement so as to restore the party’s popularity in the region. He took a moment to remind them of the rich legacy of ODM Party.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party is the single largest political party in Kenya with upwards of four million registered members. Most of its following is drawn from Western Kenya.

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The history of ODM is closely interwoven with Kenya’s second political liberation.

Its leader Raila Amollo Odinga’s hope of succeeding Moi as KANU’s candidate for the presidency in the 2002 elections was shattered when Moi called upon the party to support Uhuru Kenyatta, son of former president Jomo Kenyatta. Several KANU members, including Odinga, formed the Rainbow Alliance within the party in protest of the choice, and they instead advocated for a vote among KANU members to determine the party’s presidential candidate. Their pleas went unheeded, and KANU officially named Kenyatta as its candidate a few months later; in response, Odinga and the Rainbow Alliance left KANU and formed the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The LDP soon joined with a coalition of several parties, the National Alliance of Kenya (NAK), to form the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) under the leadership of former vice president Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu. Although terms of agreement between the LDP and NAK were not completely revealed to the public, the two parties reportedly promised to equitably share cabinet posts and power—including naming Odinga to the new, strong prime minister post that would be created—if Kibaki were elected president. NARC’s efforts to challenge KANU were successful, and Kibaki was elected president in December 2002, the first non-KANU president in independent Kenya’s history. NARC candidates (including Odinga) won more than half of the seats in the National Assembly.

As one of the NARC leaders, Odinga had played a significant role in securing the election of Kibaki, campaigning relentlessly on his behalf after the presidential candidate was seriously injured in a car accident in the month leading up to the polls. After his election, Kibaki appointed Odinga as minister of roads, public works, and housing, but the LDP soon accused Kibaki of reneging on the preelection agreement between the LDP and NAK that promised to share cabinet posts and power more equitably between the two parties. Tensions between the two NARC factions further increased over several issues discussed at the country’s constitutional review conference in the spring of 2003, including the proposal to create a strong prime minister position, which Kibaki and his supporters now backtracked from. Eventually a draft constitution supported by Kibaki that provided for a weak prime minister and a strong president was presented to the public in a referendum vote in November 2005. It was not approved, however, as Odinga successfully led a campaign against it. Soon after, Kibaki dismissed his entire cabinet and reconstituted it the next month, without Odinga or many of the former cabinet members who supported Odinga.

Problems between the LDP and NAK continued, leading to the collapse of the NARC coalition in 2006. Meanwhile, Odinga had already formed a new coalition, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). In the months prior to the 2007 presidential and legislative elections, Kibaki formed his own coalition, the Party of National Unity (PNU). During the campaign, Odinga sought to dispel the perceived grievances of some western Kenyan ethnic groups by denouncing corruption in high places and by campaigning for a fairer distribution of land and the devolvement of power to largely single-ethnic district councils.

The ODM won a resounding majority in the December 2007 legislative election. The provisional results of the presidential election indicated that Odinga would be victorious as well. However, when the final election results were released after a delay, Kibaki was declared the winner by a narrow margin. Odinga immediately disputed the outcome, and international observers questioned the validity of the final results. Widespread protests ensued throughout the country and degenerated into horrific acts of violence involving some of Kenya’s many ethnic groups, most notable of which were the Kikuyu and the Luo. More than 1,000 people were killed and more than 600,000 were displaced in the election’s violent aftermath.

Today ODM Party still upholds the sanctity of voter independence and the intrinsic values enshrined in the Kenyan constitution.

Wakili Fred Odumo Nying’uro reminded the Nyando officials that with such a rich history there should not be any obstacle in selling ODM Party as the party of choice in Western Kenya.

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