Azimio senators to paralyse state business over changes
What you need to know:
- The senators, who have been boycotting plenary sittings for the last three weeks.
- Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi said they will not participate in substantive matters because the Speaker has shown high-handedness and disrespect to the minority side.
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition senators are plotting to paralyse any business by President William Ruto’s government brought before the House until Speaker Amason Kingi recognises leadership changes made by the minority side.
The senators, who have been boycotting plenary sittings for the last three weeks, have maintained that they will continue disrupting House business, which resumes today. They have accused Mr Kingi of pushing a political agenda in the stalemate.
However, their Kenya Kwanza counterparts have dared them to bring on the protests, saying they lack the numbers to derail any government business.
Nairobi Senator and Deputy Minority Whip-designate Edwin Sifuna said the protests, which saw the passage of the budget policy statement and the medium-term debt management strategy paper delayed for weeks, will continue until the leadership changes row is resolved. He explained that passage of critical businesses in the House requires at least 24 votes from the elected senators and this is the number they are targeting to deny the majority side.
“We are prepared to go the long haul until sanity is restored in the Senate. We have to make a statement that the Senate is a House of the members and whatever decision is made by either side must be respected,” said Mr Sifuna.
Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi said they will not participate in substantive matters because the Speaker has shown high-handedness and disrespect to the minority side. He accused Mr Kingiof of trying to interfere with the leadership of the minority side by refusing to communicate the changes while also violating the Standing Orders since a tribunal cannot injunct Parliament’s proceedings.
“The speaker has been ignoring earlier precedents set and he is misinterpreting the law to push a political agenda,” said Mr Osostsi. “We feel the speaker is unnecessarily delaying the resolution of the issue. And I can tell you that even some members of the majority side are not happy with him.”
Deputy Minority Leader Enock Wambua added that the speaker should do the right thing if he does not want business in the House to be paralysed. He said the leadership positions are not ceremonial but substantive and the party's decision must be respected. He said the minority has been able to paralyse government business in the House.
“The thing they call a super majority is a phantom. For them to raise 24 delegations on their side to pass any bill is not easy. The Senate has other business and the other engagements will see some senators not attending the plenary sittings. So it is not a walk in the park,” said the Kitui senator.
Kenya Kwanza holds the majority in the Senate with 24 senators against Azimio’s 22 while Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah is non-aligned. Complicating matters for the Azimio side is the fact that five Jubilee Party and United Democratic Movement senators have since crossed over to the government side.
Mid-last month, Azimio began a purge of its members whom they accused of “going to bed” with the Kenya Kwanza government. The first casualty of the purge was Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo of Jubilee who was kicked out of her position as the Minority Whip and replaced with her deputy, Narok Senator Ledama Olekina.
The leadership changes also saw Mr Sifuna elevated to the Deputy Minority Whip. Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo and his Kitui counterpart Mr Wambua retained their positions as Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Leader, respectively
The changes are yet to be communicated in the House after Ms Dullo filed a case with the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal, which temporarily suspended recognition of the changes. The tribunal’s order was to lapse on February 28. Last week it held a hearing of the case and it is expected to deliver its ruling today.
Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot told the minority side that it lacks the numbers to paralyse any business in the Senate.