Azimio woos MPs ahead of election of speakers


ODM chairman John Mbadi (holding microphone) with Azimio legislators elect  at a press briefing after a service at ACK St Francis Karen in Nairobi on Sunday.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition led by Mr Raila Odinga is desperate to win back members who have shifted their loyalty to the Kenya Kwanza Alliance ahead of the election of speakers of Parliament.

ODM chairman John Mbadi said they have started engaging those who have aligned themselves with President-elect William Ruto before the first sitting of the House.

“How do you claim our members who Mr Odinga personally campaigned for and their people overwhelmingly voted for us?” he posed.

The coalition held a strategy meeting in Upper Hill on Friday, where the importance of the National Assembly Speaker was emphasised. Last Tuesday, they formed a committee that will steer the division of House leadership positions among its partners.

It has Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Makali Mulu (Kitui Central), Adan Keynan (Eldas), Yusuf Haji (Kamukunji), Naisula Lesuuda (Samburu West), Danson Mwashako (Wundanyi), Abdisabir Shuriye (Balambala), Julius Mawathe (Embakasi South), Mr Mbadi, and Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo.

The representatives of different regions are supposed to come up with the names of suitable candidates for the position. The persons will then be vetted before settling on one candidate. The aim is to present a formidable candidate that will be acceptable across the board.

The law says a candidate for the speaker’s seat must be supported by at least two-thirds or 233 of the 349 members of the National Assembly. However, if none of the candidates attains this threshold in the first round, the one with a simple majority in the second round wins.

In the National Assembly, Kenya Kwanza politically has a slim majority at 161 against Azimio’s 159. But legally, Azimio has more numbers since Maendeleo Chap Chap (MCC) of outgoing Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) of his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi are still their members as per the coalition agreement.

PAA has three members in the National Assembly while MCC has two seats. Should they vote for Azimio, it will give the coalition five members, with a slim 164 – 156 majority.

“You know when you have the Speaker, you have everything, so we must get it because we are the majority. We are always working on ways to get back our members who crossed to the other side. We will get them back into the fold by hook or crook,” Dr Mulu said.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and former Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim have so far been proposed for the position. Mr Mbadi has been accepted across board as the Majority leader candidate.

“Indications are that Mr Mbadi is going to get it. All Azimio members have a soft spot for him and have thrown their support behind him,” said an MP who attended the Friday meeting.

Mr Mbadi is said to be in good books with ODM members because he showed loyalty to their party leader when he was asked to step down in the Homa Bay gubernatorial race despite having invested heavily in campaigns.

“He was the minority leader in the 12 Parliament and therefore knows how to handle members well. He can provide direction in a crisis,” said an MP from Western Kenya.