The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is the largest political party in Kenya born out of a protracted struggle for reforms in Kenya. The clamor for reforms arose out of successive mutilations of the independence constitution that culminated to the enactment of Section 2 (a) which banned multiparty politics.
The subsequent authoritarian style of leadership led to massive human rights violations. However, repression did not dampen Kenyans spirit and desire for a democratic and just society. The agitation for reforms spearheaded by reform agents mainly politicians, a section of the clergy and activists forced the Kenya National African Union (Kanu) regime to repeal Section 2 (a) of the constitution. This brought to an end the single party rule and opened the doors for multiparty politics. This saw the birth of the Forum for Restoration of Democracy (FORD) among others.
The new era heightened the hunger for a new constitutional dispensation with Kenyans from all walks of life embracing mass protests spearheaded by the civil society and reform minded politicians to compel the KANU Government to embrace reforms. The constitution of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) in 2002 was a direct consequence of this campaign. However, the dissolution of the 8th parliament and subsequent general election in December 2002 interrupted the process.
Riding on an undertaking to give Kenyans a new constitution in the first 100 days of their rule, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) trounced KANU in the 2002 General Election. The Bomas Conference was recalled to conclude the process. However, a section of the government turned out to be retrogressive leading to draft that was not a reflection of people’s aspirations and expectations.
The birth of the Orange
The ensuing constitutional referendum pitted the YES team, christened ‘Banana’ against the NO team dubbed ‘Orange’. The proponents of the YES team were for the draft constitution which negated the aspirations of the people, basically anti-reform minded people. The NO team (Orange) wanted a constitution that stood for equitable development through devolution, respect for human rights and vibrant democracy.
The NO (Orange) team that spearheaded the defeat of the retrogressive draft constitution in November 2005, evolved into a popular movement that engaged the new establishment with a view to restarting the constitution making process. The Orange team comprised of Messrs Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Henry Kosgey, William Ruto, Uhuru Kenyatta, Musalia Mudavadi, Najib Balala, Billow Kerrow, Charity Ngilu, William Ole Ntimama, Omingo Magara, Fred Gumo among others. From the clergy we had Rev. Timothy Njoya, Rev. (Dr) David Gitari, Sheikh Juma Ngao among others. The Orange victory at the referendum transformed the movement into a major political party, the Orange Domocratic Movement (ODM) which was captained by Raila Odinga and Mudavadi, Ruto, Balala, Joe Nyagah and Ngilu which formed the PENTAGON.
The stolen Orange victory
The 2007 general election was a re-play of the 2005 referendum pitying the Yes proponents under the Party of National Unity (PNU) led by Mwai Kibaki and the Orange team under the stewardship of Raila Odinga. It is worth noting that the general election was conducted against the background of total rejection of relevant institutional reforms to the electoral process by the incumbent regime. Having mounted a successful campaign, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) won the election but had its victory denied in bungled process that left the country on fire leading to post election violence. These protests and pressure from the international community led to a negotiated power-sharing deal on a 50-50 basis. This led to the signing of the National Accord which was later enacted into law by parliament. The grand coalition government was born with Kibaki retaining the presidency and Raila assuming the Prime Minister’s position.
The New Constitution
Under the National Accord, the grand coalition government was obligated to undertake institutional reforms, national reconciliation and most importantly, complete the constitutional process. On 4th August 2010, a referendum was held on a draft constitution that captured the Orange constitutional aspirations and expectations. On the 28th of the same month, the Orange Democratic Movement registered a landmark victory when the new constitution was promulgated.
Democracy on Trial
The lack of commitment by the coalition partners PNU to the spirit and letter of the constitution impacted negatively on the implementation of both the National Accord and the new constitution. Whereas the provisions of the National Accord were substantially implemented, the forces of the status quo obstructed the realization of the actual fruits of change. This is illustrated by the rejection of the TJRC report, the refusal to address impunity with regard to post election violence and ultimately the manipulation of the 2013 general election that saw yet another snatched victory from the Orange party.