BY INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER.
Cracks have emerged amongst Luo elders following the controversial replacement of the embattled Luo Council of Elders’ former chairman Ker Meshack Riaga Ogalo.
Riaga was over the weekend replaced at a function in South Nyanza which was also attended by several elders and leaders from the region amongst them , the Prime Minister Raila Odinga and a host of Luo Nyanza MPs
Earlier the elders and a section of the MPs held a closed door meeting with the PM at Sony Sugar’s guest house at Awendo trading center before the team left for a declaration at Awendo grounds in Migori town .
During the colorful ceremony which was skipped by the immediate former chairman and those who back him, Willis Opiyo Otondi was crowned the new Ker.
Otondi hails from Kisumu county and his election into the seat sometime this year is still is pending before a Kisumu court after Riaga and his team obtained a court injunction.
In a quick rejoinder Riaga maintained he was still the chairman of the council insisting the constitution guiding operations of the outfit fully recognized him as such.
Speaking to this journalist on phone Riaga dismissed as futile attempts to oust him claiming they were politically instigated and vowed to resist those behind the schemes.
While hitting out at those who attended the Migori function Riaga dismissed his ouster as the work of some ODM MPs he did not name and went on to describe it as a Raila affair which he can not accept or respect and vowed to continue serving in that capacity .
He said having been elected into the chair , he can only be replaced upon death adding that the constitution is very clear on how succession should happen at the council and declared he was not a coward.
Controversy pitying the Luo council of elders began sometime this year when Riaga reportedly made a trip to Libya allegedly without seeking the opinion and approval of a section of its members.
Some were also unhappy with his decision to champion a campaign which saw an NGO push male circumcision amongst the community which traditionally did not practice the cut.
The spirited campaigns which was backed by scientific evidence indicating male circumcision could reduce HIV infection rates amongst those circumcised by up to 60 per cent met both resistance and support from different people in the community.
It was however embraced by key politicians from the community including Raila himself and several youths have since undergone the procedure medically.
But unconfirmed reports indicated that while in Libya Riaga could have met president Mummar Gadaffi who is alleged to have plaid host him and other elders according to the information.
The Libyan meeting was reportedly attended by several other council leaders from other tribes across Africa with some coming from the neighbouring Uganda.
Those who were opposed to the meeting accused Riaga of using his position to allegedly seek funding with claims that he was intending to uplift the community through various development projects while in reality the monies were to be kept by him.
Another school of thought is however of the opinion that the embattled Ker attracted problems to himself the moment he began edging closer to the Eldoret north MP William Ruto who currently is a bitter political rival of ODM supremo Raila Odinga.
Those who believe his problems can be traced to his closeness with Ruto claim Riaga who convened a fundraiser at his home with the former minister as the chief guest should have seen it coming all along.
They argue that having been elevated into the office of Ker by Raila , Riaga should have known better than embrace Ruto who is now perceived by many in political circles as the premier’s arch rival.
Kisumu town west MP lawyer Olago Aluoch joined the fray and called on the embattled chairman to swallow his pride and accept the verdict of the people gracefully.
Many observers from Luo Nyanza are now waiting to see what impact , if any will the new development have on the politics of the region.
The bitter Riaga himself while faulting the move said it was wrong for Raila who will be gunning for the presidency come the year 2012 to back another man from his native central Nyanza region as the head the council of elders.
He said politicians should keep off the affairs of the council although it is not lost on many that Riaga himself was a beneficiary of the same politicians when Raila picked him to the chair and left out the late controversial KANU stalwart Oselu Nyalik who for along time opposed the Odingas politically.
Apart from the late Jaromogi Oginga Odinga who until his death was also Luo Ker , many previous holders of that office have traditionally come from the greater Southern Nyanza.