Azimio, Kenya Kwanza supremacy battle spills to Senate

Senate sitting

President William Ruto flanked by Speaker of National Assembly (left) and Senate Speaker Amason Kingi address the 13th Parliament on September 29, 2022. Each of the two coalitions is claiming majority stake in both Houses.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat I Nation Media Group

The supremacy battle for control of Parliament between Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Azimio yesterday spilled to the Senate with the two coalitions claiming majority side in the House.

The afternoon sitting began with Speaker Amason Kingi communicating the Senate political party leadership with Kenya Kwanza being the majority side while Azimio the minority.

However, Kisumu Senator Professor Tom Ojienda rose on a point of order to challenge Speaker Kingi's communication.

Prof Ojienda said Azimio has the majority numbers in the Senate with three Kenya Kwanza Alliance senators set to leave the House after being nominated to the cabinet and Moses Wetangula resigning to become National Assembly Speaker.

He said that it would take at least three months for by-elections to be held in Bungoma and Elgeyo Marakwet to replace both Mr Wetang'ula and Kipchumba Murkomen while for nominated Senator Soipan Tuya it will take 14 days for a replacement.

Canvas rumours

Consequently, he said the numbers will tilt in Azimio's favour with the Raila Odinga-led outfit boosting 32 senators and Kenya Kwanza 31 with one senator being independent.   

"After the resignations, we are going to face the problem of a minority side being designated as majority. The outcome of the elections may also favour Azimio," said Prof Ojienda.

"When the membership is that close then balance needs to be created. It's premature to designate Kenya Kwanza as majority or Azimio as minority side. This House will have to come up with an ingenious way of settling the matter," he added.

However, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot dismissed Prof Ojienda, saying that Kenya Kwanza still wields the majority numbers with 36 senators against Azimio's 29.

He said the numbers are as a result of Mandera Senator Ali Roba-led United Democratic Movement (UDM) senators (two elected and one nominated) ditching Azimio to associate with Kenya Kwanza leaving Azimio with only 29 senators.

"They are trying to canvas rumours before the House. You have not communicated about any member resigning to join the cabinet. Therefore, there is no single imagination on how Azimio can be the majority even if you do Cherera mathematics," Mr Cheruiyot said.

Politically, Kenya Kwanza has 36 senators, Azimio 29 with Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah of National Reconstruction Alliance being non-aligned.

Two coalitions

Legally, however, the two coalitions are tied at 32 senators each after the resignation of Mr Wetang'ula, Senator Omtatah being non-aligned and Embu Senator Alexander Mundigi being from DP, which contested being part of Kenya Kwanza.

Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina said the consequence of which side is the majority or minority is far-reaching as it will determine committees allocations.

"The point raised is valid. How can Senator Cheruiyot claim that the president is a rumour monger by saying that no senators have been nominated to the cabinet?" posed Mr Ole Kina.

But Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale hit back accusing Azimio senators of running ahead of themselves by not waiting until the two senators resign.

"The point of order by Prof Ojienda only exists in his imagination and street of social media. They should wait until the senators cease being one then they will be free to ask for your advice," said Mr Khalwale.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei echoed Senator Khalwale's sentiments saying that if the law, especially Section 3 of amended Political Parties Act, then Azimio coalition party has no senator in the House.

"We are engaging in rumour mongering and speculations as the electoral commission has not communicated the resignations of Murkomen and Soipan," said Mr Cherargei.

Escalating the dicey situation, nominated UDM Senator Abbas Sheikh Mohamed said they are in Kenya Kwanza to stay and they owe no one any apologies.

"I want to confirm and affirm to this House that UDM is in Kenya Kwanza and we have no apologies to make. Azimio has failed to retain its members and Kenya Kwanza moved in to take them," said Senator Mohamed.

Speaker Kingi said he has not received any resignation note from the two senators maintaining that Kenya Kwanza is still the majority in the House.

Further, he said he will not allow to be dragged into internal party affairs as such matters should be handled internally by the various party leadership.

"In fact, Azimio did confirm that they are in the minority and playing the role in accordance with the list of leaders they sent to my office. Azimio cannot now purport to turn around after writing  the said letter. The communication read by the chair on who is the majority and minority reflects the position," said Mr Kingi.

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