Orange Democratic Movement

Political Party


Orange Democratic Movement - (ODM)

Founded: 2005

Key Figures: Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Henry Kosgey, William Ruto, Najib Balala

The Orange Democratic Movement - (ODM) is the successor of a former grassroots people's movement which was formed in the 2005 Kenyan constitutional referendum. The erstwhile single party which separated in August 2007 into two. The two parties are the Orange Democratic Movement Party of Kenya (usually known simply as ODM), and the Orange Democratic Movement–Kenya (known as ODM–Kenya).

The name "orange" originates from the ballot cards in the referendum, in which a 'Yes' vote was represented by the banana and a 'No' vote was the orange. Thus the parties claim successorship to those who did not support the referendum at the time.

The original linchpins of the ODM were Uhuru Kenyatta's KANU party and Raila Odinga's LDP, but KANU have since pulled out, and the two groupings are headed by Raila Odinga (ODM) and Kalonzo Musyoka (ODM–Kenya).

The 'No' vote which the ODM campaigned for won out with 58.12% of Kenyans voting down the proposed constitution, granting victory to the Orange. Following the rejection of the constitution, President Mwai Kibaki proceeded to dismiss his entire cabinet. The response of the ODM was to say that this was a step in the right direction, but called for immediate general elections for the entire Kenyan government, claiming that the Kibaki regime had lost its mandate as a result of the referendum which it vigorously campaigned in favor of. Kibaki's government has resisted this and elections were not held until the last week of Kibaki's five-year constitutionally-mandated tenure. However, the ODM has emerged as a major opposition party along with KANU, and has organized a number of rallies throughout the country asking for elections and a new constitution amongst other demands. Also, the ODM has protested Kibaki's new cabinet. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which opposed the referendum, was dropped out of the cabinet.

After the 2002 elections KANU was beaten into opposition, while LDP was a partner in the ruling NARC coalition, until it was kicked out after the 2005 referendum. LDP had supported no vote at the referendum, thus being against president Kibaki.

Following their united stand in the referendum debate and responding to a threat by a newly formed Narc-Kenya party, the leaders of KANU, LDP and some smaller parties decided to team up for the upcoming 2007 Kenya general elections, forming the Orange Democratic Movement, which was named after the symbol of an orange used to represent "No" in the referendum. However, opportunist lawyer Mugambi Imanyara managed to register ODM as a party before the coalition did, forcing them instead to use the ODM-Kenya banner. As 2007 progressed the coalition proved unstable, with various factions defecting. Uhuru Kenyatta's KANU were the first, pulling out in July 2007 and endorsing President Kibaki’s reelection, although some individual KANU politicians stayed in ODM. Then, due to internal rivalry between Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga, ODM split into two factions in mid-August2007.

Raila's group, which also included Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, Joseph Nyagah and Najib Balala defected from ODM Kenya and took over the ODM party registered by Mugambi Imanyara, while Kalonzo's group, led by himself and Dr. Julia Ojiambo remained in the original ODM-Kenya.

The two factions held their elections for presidential candidate on consecutive days at the Kasarani sports complex in Nairobi. On 31 August 2007, Kalonzo Musyoka defeated Julia Ojiambo for the ODM–Kenya ticket, then on 1 September Raila Odinga defeated Ruto, Mudavadi, Balala and Nyagah. There were allegations that some delegates attended and voted in the nominations of both parties bringing to light the problem of ambiguous political party membership that is in Kenya. Raila and Kalonzo then faced president Kibaki in the general election. Kibaki was declared winner of the elections in circumstances that were described as "questionable" by various observers. Raila Odinga and his supporters disputed the results, and triggered widespread violence that mainly targeted members of Kibaki tribe around the country forcing interventions by the international community.

ODM became the largest party in parliament after the December 2007 elections with 99 members of parliament and went ahead to win 3 out of five by-elections in early 2008. However it seems that the jinx of losing Members of Parliament still haunts the party since no sooner had by-elections been conducted in the constituencies of two ODM MPs who were killed at the beginning of the year than two more MPs died in an aircraft crash. Some ODM MP's whose elections were contested in court have lost their seats and more elections petitions are still going on.

Following the passing of the political parties act. ODM, held its internal elections in late December 2008 with Prime Minister Raila Odinga emerging as party leader, and Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey as party chairman. However due to agitation over regional and gender representation, some party posts had to be created on the day. Raila has since fallen out with William Ruto and Najib Balala, two key members of the party.


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