ODM cracks the whip on ‘rebel’ Otiende Amollo
Mercy Mwai and Rawlings Otieno
Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo became the first casualty in what appears to be a crackdown on perceived opponents of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party yesterday removed Amollo from the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) where he has been serving as vice-chair and replaced him with Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang’.
He will, however, continue sitting in the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as a member.
The move to remove Amollo from the committee comes against the backdrop of sustained attacks from some ODM legislators over his stand on the Bill.
Amollo, Siaya Senator James Orengo and his Nyamira counterpart Okong’o Omogeni have been heavily criticised by their party colleagues for calling for amendments to the BBI Bill before it is passed.
That position contradicts the party’s stand, as outlined by the ODM national chairman and National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi that the Bill be passed in its current form.
“The Hon Francis Tom Joseph Kajwang’, MP to be appointed to the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs to replace the Hon Otiende Amollo, MP,” read a motion tabled in the National Assembly seeking his removal.
Confirming his removal, Mbadi said the party is at liberty to make any changes on membership of the committees as it deems fit. He explained that the decision is aimed at aligning the aspirations of the party with the work of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.
“It is true that we have removed him (Amollo) from JLAC. We move members any time we feel there is need and we don’t cite reasons for removing members from those committees. We have replaced him with Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang’,” said Mbadi.
“Kajwang’ is joining. He may not be a professor in law but is the people’s chief justice,” said Mbadi.
Saw it coming
Asked whether the party will also take action Orengo who is the Senator Minority Leader, Mbadi retorted: “I am a member of the National Assembly, I don’t preside over the Senate. I cannot tell what will happen there.”
Amollo appears to have got wind of the looming action hours before, tweeting that he was ready for any eventuality.
“The Vicissitudes Of Politics. So, The Schemers Want Me Out Of JLAC. I Will Take It In Grace & Stride,” said Amollo alluding to the impending purge.
And in a swift response, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr comforted Amollo, assuring him that his brilliance is unmatched.
“They can remove you from all committees but they cannot match the brilliance,” said Kilonzo in a tweet.
Nominated MP Millicent Omanga, on her part, claimed that Amollo had rubbed the powers that be in the party the wrong way by stating the truth about BBI.
“He has paid for it with his ‘blood’. He has been kicked out of JLAC by ODM. The dictator has always camouflaged as a democrat. Rule by the thumb. We haven’t seen nothing yet,” she said.
Lawyer Donald Kipkorir also took to twitter, warning against the folly of challenging the political establishment.
“Amollo makes the kindergarten mistake of every politician in Kenya riding on the coattails of Raila Odinga then think they’re popular on their own. Political oblivion. You can’t fly to the sun with wax wings,” he said.
Linda Katiba Initiative activist Waikwa Wanyoike charged: “Luckily, one of the reasons that BBI will collapse is because Mbadi, National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya and JLAC chair Muturi Kigano are using draught rules and strategies to play a game of Chess.”
The ODM decision came on the day it emerged that the Jubilee Party had also warned its members that they will face disciplinary action should they vote against the BBI Bill.
According to senior Jubilee insiders, who did not want to be identified, the party will be monitoring how members vote tomorrow for purposes of confirming the number of legislators, who are on their side.
The legislators are expected to take a vote on the Bill tomorrow once all they conclude giving their views on it.
“Yes, we will be watching them to know who votes where, those who oppose the Bill Kenyans will know them by name, as a party we will also be keen on taking action on those who defy party positions,” said the source.
Speaking yesterday, Kimunya was categorical that all members irrespective of where they will be will be expected to participate in the process as they will be able to vote virtually.
Kimunya revealed that they are currently lobbying members to make themselves available for voting as they require to marshal 175 members to pass the Bill.
“We expect members to vote on Thursday afternoon once they conclude debate on the Bill. We want as many members as possible to give their views on the document,” he said.
“We have put in place measures to vote virtually, we will be able to know who votes how because it is a recorded voting,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the changes that saw Amollo de-whipped, Limuru MP Peter Mwathi was appointed to the powerful National Security and Administration Committee putting him closer to taking the chairmanship position.
Before his appointment, Mwathi was serving in the Labour committee.
The MP is set to replace Kabinga Wachira (Mwea), who now moves to the Labour and Social Welfare committee.
Benjamin Tayari (Kinango) has been appointed to the Committee on Implementation to replace Owen Baya (Kilifi North), while newly-elected MP Kalasinga Majimbo (Kabuchai) has been appointed to the Agriculture and Livestock committee.
Kisii Woman Rep Janet Ong’era moves to the Environment and Natural Resources committee to replace Tayari, while Teddy Mwambire (Ganze) has been appointed to the Public Investments Committee to replace Anthony Oluoch (Mathare).
Oscar Nabulindo (Matungu) has been appointed to the Committee on National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity.