Uhuru neuters Ruto in Senate as DP allies say move is illegal

Senators Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika address journalists at Parliament Buildings on May 11,2020. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dulo will remain deputy majority leader. Mr Poghisio becomes the third majority leader for the Jubilee coalition after Prof Kithure Kindiki and Mr Murkomen.
  • The minutes in his possession, Mr Lusaka said, showed that 20 senators attended the State House meeting, a majority of the coalition’s membership.

President Kenyatta Tuesday notched another win against his deputy, Mr William Ruto, in the battle to control Jubilee after Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka upheld controversial changes made to the party’s house leadership despite protests from lawmakers allied to the Deputy President.

Mr Lusaka’s decision has now left the DP and his allies clutching at straws. In a stormy early morning session, Mr Lusaka ruled that Monday’s Jubilee parliamentary group meeting held at State House was properly convened and upheld the resolutions that stripped Senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru) of the majority leader and majority whip Senate posts respectively.

TAKE OVER
The speaker further ruled that West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio was properly elected as the majority leader during the PG and ruled that he should take over immediately.

The Speaker’s ruling ignored a decision by the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal suspending the Jubilee-Kanu post-election pact signed last week and on whose back Mr Poghisio earned his new position.

The PPDT blocked any execution of the Jubilee-Kanu deal until the ruling party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has met. Others elected in the State House meeting are senators Irungu Kang’ata and Farhiya Ali who now become majority whip and deputy, respectively.

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dulo will remain deputy majority leader. Mr Poghisio becomes the third majority leader for the Jubilee coalition after Prof Kithure Kindiki and Mr Murkomen.

Mr Lusaka pledged to give a detailed ruling at a later date, but insisted he was satisfied that due process had been followed.

The minutes in his possession, Mr Lusaka said, showed that 20 senators attended the State House meeting, a majority of the coalition’s membership.

The 38 include Mr Poghisio, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and nominated Senator Abshiro Halakhe of Kanu who were allowed to attend because of the pact. A visibly angry Murkomen didn’t mince his words on the ruling, taking to the floor to tell the Speaker that “this is not your decision”.

“Mr Speaker… you have been pushed to a corner to make that decision. It doesn’t tell us the names or what you did with the tribunal decision that came before you,” he said. He accused Mr Kenyatta of stooping to the level “of a small man”.

“If the greatest achievement of the President of Kenya is to demonstrate to the people of this country that ‘I’ve removed the majority leader, I’m a big man’… Mr Speaker the President is already a big man. I’m just a son of a squatter born and brought up in Embobut,” he said, referring to his village in Elgeyo Marakwet.

SIBLING RIVALRY
He accused the Head of State of being the source of the never-ending sibling rivalry between the Senate and the National Assembly.

“Mr President, stop lying to the Senate. You told us that we will have the oversight funds. If Murkomen was the stumbling block, bring the funds now. If I was the only reason that the Senate was not given the oversight funds, I want to say: It is time,” Mr Murkomen said.

However, it’s the circus surrounding the list of those who attended or did not attend the State House meeting that is intriguing, making it difficult to tell who is telling the truth.

The President’s latest victory makes it a three-nil scoreline against his deputy who is yet to make any significant headway against his boss in the Senate since crack rocked their relationship.
Previous victories include the proposal to expand the national debt ceiling and the removal of former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu.

Ms Kihika insisted the changes resulted from a coup orchestrated by a dictatorial regime, but insisted she will continue serving her electorate.

“We know it is politics, but it was a travesty of justice. There was an order by the tribunal, but it was ignored,” she said, adding she remain outspoken. “Let everyone know we shall continue fighting for the cause we believe in. This is not the last time you are seeing us.”

Mr Kang’ata, the new majority whip, allayed fears that a frontal change in the leadership of House committees is in the offing, saying the new team is not vindictive.

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