The Orange Democratic Movement has vowed to pursue disciplinary action against Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero for supporting its rival in the Homa Bay by-election.
The party’s political affairs office said it would not discriminate in its intended action against rebels, which also targets Dr Kidero’s allies.
Recently, Dr Kidero declared his support for Philip Okundi, who decamped from ODM and obtained the Maendeleo Democratic Party’s ticket to vie in the Homa Bay senatorial by-election.
Mr Okundi left the party after it gave its ticket to Moses Kajwang’, a brother of Senator Otieno Kajwang’, who died last year.
The declaration has ignited a political war that has been going on silently between ODM leader Raila Odinga and the governor.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, the party’s political affairs director, on Wednesday said Dr Kidero’s declaration confirmed long-standing speculation over his loyalty to Mr Odinga.
“We are happy he has come out,” he told the Nation. “This is a revelation of a wider conspiracy involving our main opponents Jubilee and a few people in our midst.”
Mr Odinga is considered the political king of the Luo community, where he enjoys a massive following.
However, a nascent political movement opposed to his domination, known as Kalausi, which is associated with Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, is claimed to be behind Mr Okundi’s candidature.
ODM supporters accuse the movement of being a Jubilee Coalition proxy.
Mr Okundi has, from time to time, dismissed the Jubilee tag, saying his party is friendly to Cord, the Opposition coalition.
Cord affiliate parties had agreed not to field separate candidates in the Homa Bay race, but Mr Okundi and Fred Rabongo of the National Agenda Party, who also initially sought ODM’s nomination, disagreed.
Dr Kidero’s position has widened the rift that exists between two camps that emerged as a result of the chaotic nomination in the Orange party, which ended in the issuance of a direct ticket to Mr Kajwang’.
One camp comprises ODM legislators allied to Mr Okundi, while the other is made up of those supporting Mr Kajwang’.
The party’s chairman, John Mbadi, and MPs Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Silvance Osele (Kabondo Kasipul), Oyugi Magwanga (Kasipul) and Governor Cyprian Awiti have thrown their weight behind Mr Kajwang’.
A group comprising James Rege (Karachuonyo), George Oner (Rangwe) former Martin Ogindo and now Dr Kidero, support Mr Okundi’s bid.
Although Mr Odinga’s role in the nomination met resistance ahead of the presentation of certificates to the electoral commission, the Cord leader retains a strong influence in the region, giving his party’s candidate an upper hand.
When he visited Homa Bay after Mr Rege and Mr Oner threatened to rally resistance against him, the ODM leader received a rousing welcome.
However, Tom Mboya, a political science lecturer at Maseno University, says the impact of Dr Kidero’s endorsement is a wait-and-see situation.
Mr Mboya believes that the turn of events in the race is the fruit of the public outcry that greeted a proposal that Mr Odinga vie for the seat.
“Kidero knows what is going on at the grassroots since he comes from the county.
“His entry might tilt the game,” said Mr Mboya.
However, the influence of Governor Cyprian Awiti, a political heavyweight in the region, cannot be ignored too, according to the lecturer.
To him, linking Jubilee to Dr Kidero’s endorsement of Mr Okundi is mere propaganda by people shying away from the political reality on the ground.
“People see Mr Kajwang’ as an imposed candidate,” he says.
But Mr Kajwang’ says he is not worried by Dr Kidero’s decision, arguing that the governor had never been committed to supporting him.
He says the open defiance to leaders associating with ODM’s competitors confirms to Homa Bay residents who their real enemies are.
“We ask Mr Kidero to concentrate on issues in Nairobi and leave us alone to play our politics down here,” Mr Kajwang’ told the Nation by telephone.
“It is on record the governor has been challenging Mr Odinga. This is the same script of Kalausi and Jubilee sympathisers.”
The ODM candidate also dismissed the clan factor in the elections.
Observers argue that the combined financial muscle of Dr Kidero and Mr Okundi would boost the latter’s campaign.
Mr Okundi accused the leaders that are castigating the Nairobi governor for supporting him of being undemocratic, saying only the Homa Bay people would decide their next senator.
“Governor Kidero has his right of political expression. I thank him for coming out to support me in this race,” he told the Nation on Wednesday.
However, Mr Wandayi dared Dr Kidero to quit ODM and seek his position afresh through Mr Okundi’s party.