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Top diplomats Mwakwere and Ongeri ditch President Kenyatta for opposition ODM

IEBC now requires parties to submit membership lists to it by March 19, with the exercise commencing 10 days earlier.

ODM party leader Raila Odinga (right) and former minister Prof. Sam Ongeri in Kisii County.

The two are early key high profile defectors after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) published new election timelines for the nomination of candidates by political parties.

The commission now requires parties to submit membership lists to it by March 19, with the exercise commencing 10 days earlier.

Mwakwere (former Kenyan ambassador to Tanzania) and Ongeri (former Kenyan ambassador to the United Nations Environmental Programme) have already tendered their resignations and their defections will prove a major blow for President Kenyatta’s government.

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The two were key allies of the president in perceived opposition strongholds of Kisii and Kwale counties.

Welcomed to ODM

On Monday, ODM party leader Raila Odinga was on hand in Kisii to officially welcome Prof Ongeri into the party.

The former minister will vie for the Kisii Senatorial seat on an ODM ticket.

Mwakwere was over the weekend officially received into the party by ODM deputy party leader and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho.

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Mwakwere who is also a former minister, will be gunning for the Kwale gubernatorial seat which is currently held by Salim Mvurya who defected to the Jubilee Party.

Talking about his future, Mr Mwakwere said he officially resigned as Kenya’s ambassador to Tanzania last Friday to concentrate on his “development agenda for Kwale”.

Change movement

“I was an ambassador, a very important appointment to serve the interest of the citizens of Kenya at a diplomatic level. I want to clear the air, I have quit Jubilee Party and now I am with my people in the National Super Alliance,” he said.

Speaking in Kisii, Raila said the community had unanimously resolved to join ODM as their party of choice to best agitate for their interests in August.

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ODM director of elections Junet Mohammed said the party has opened its doors to persons interested in joining what he termed as the “change movement”.

“We are welcoming our brothers who have agreed to team up with us. Defectors are expected in large numbers in the coming weeks,” he said.

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