Home » Raila and Orengo’s love-hate relationship

Raila and Orengo’s love-hate relationship

by Nderi Caren

Siaya Senator James Orengo’s current situation in ODM will have students of history revisiting the longstanding love-hate relationship between him and his party leader Raila Odinga.

Orengo has arguably been a strong pillar for Raila Odinga, especially in constitutional matters, legal advice and even representations in court cases.

He has stood with Raila during the most daring moments, for instance when he administered an oath of office to him on January 30, 2018.

However, the allies have disagreed on certain instances, and when it happens; ‘it gets noisy and messy’.

Even before the BBI came into the picture, Orengo had disagreed with Raila’s decision to make amendments with President Uhuru Kenyatta through the March 2018 handshake.

He was not pleased with the union between the two, saying that Raila had been shortchanged.

Orengo said that Raila had given everything through the handshake, but Uhuru had not given anything.

Despite the dissatisfaction, Orengo continued to support Raila and slowly warmed up to president Uhuru Kenyatta.

In 1996, Raila and Orengo came face to face as opposing sides during Ford-Kenya polls held at Thika Stadium.

Here, Raila Odinga wanted the Ford-Kenya party leadership mantle handed over to him, but Orengo was of a contrary opinion.

He vouched for the late Kijana Wamalwa to replace Jaramogi Oginga and not his son, Raila.

“I supported Wamalwa and not my friend, Raila, with the view of giving our party a national outlook. The handing over of the baton from a Luo to another was not going to be a good thing,” Orengo recalled years later.

Years after this instance, Orengo had a bitter fallout with Raila in 2002 when he shelved his ambitions to support President Mwai Kibaki in the General Election.

According to the Siaya Senator, Raila handed the leadership baton to Kibaki when he said ‘Kibaki Tosha. He was against Kibaki presidency, terming him as an establishment, who has been keen on fighting the opposition since independence.

Out of this frustration, Orengo vied for presidency alongside Mwai Kibaki under the Social Democratic Party (SDP).Photo: Nation.

“It was painful for me that we had allowed our fruits of the struggle to be hijacked by those who had all along sat in the periphery,” said Orengo.

Out of this frustration, Orengo vied for presidency alongside Mwai Kibaki under the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

He emerged the fourth with a total tally of 24 524 votes while President Kibaki led with 3 646 277.

In an exclusive interview with the standard in 2014, he said that his decision to vie was meant to be a protest statement for Odinga.

“I wanted real leadership change when Moi’s term in office came to an end, and not just another game of musical chairs,” he told the Standard.

In February 2014, Orengo left Raila at his time of need after chickening out of Party elections at the last minute.

He had been preferred to take the Secretary general position in ODM, but disappeared into thin air in the last minute. Later, Orengo explained that he could see rival camps emerging within the party, fearing that it could lead to its collapse.

Currently, Orengo and Odinga are on another phase of break up, and at the brink of going separate ways again.

His opposition to a section of the BBI report has seen him face backlash from other members of ODM party who have accused him of going against Raila’s wish.

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