A strategy by President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance in Parliament led to the passing of a report by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) recommending the removal of four Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials as resistance from opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition crumbled.
A tribunal has since been formed while commissioner Justus Nyang’aya tendered his resignation on Friday.
The stage was set on the last day of sitting on Thursday before MPs proceeded for recess.
The report was to be passed without any delay for onward transmission to President Ruto to form the tribunal.
Debate on the report was among the last businesses to be conducted in the House, ostensibly to exhaust Azimio members.
The ruling coalition was aware that with recess beginning on Friday, members would not want to sit in the House for long.
The strategy paid off as only a small number of Azimio lawmakers were present when the motion was passed.
The House had already adopted a procedural motion seeking to extend sitting time from the normal 7pm until conclusion of the business listed in the order paper. That meant MPs were at liberty to sit until midnight.
Despite a spirited fight from Minority Whip Junet Mohamed, who demanded to know why the House was in a hurry to conclude a lot of business on the same day, the Azimio leaders were overpowered by the Kenya Kwanza side.
“The report is being tabled now and has already been listed in the order. It is coming for debate. It’s one of the rare cases I have come across of things being done in such a hurry,” Mr Mohamed said.
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The Azimio team pushed to have the report on the JLAC proposing to the President to appoint a tribunal to send IEBC officials home deferred to another sitting but the proposal was shot down by Speaker Moses Wetang’ula.
He kept telling the opposition MPs to wait until the time the business was to be discussed so as to raise their objections.
The minority side said the hurry displayed by Kenya Kwanza was testament of an ulterior motive in sending the IEBC commssioners home.
But when the issue was subjected to vote on whether debate of the report should be deferred to another day, only 32 Azimio lawmakers were in the House.
Even with that, only 19 voted, with 13 absconding. Ninety six Kenya Kwanza MPs voted for the motion.
The Azimio lawmakers then walked out, saying they could not be part of an illegality.
“We feel gagged and intimidated. We will not be party to an illegal exercise,” Mr Mohamed said.
The MPs said they were going to address a press conference but only seven turned up.
They were Mr Mohamed, Mr Ong’ondo Were (Kasipul), Ms Rosa Buyu (Kisumu West), Mr Wilberforce Oundo (Funyula), Mr Tom Kajwang (Ruaraka), Mr Babu Owino (Embakasi East) and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi
House business continued uninterrupted despite the walkout as Standing Orders stipulate 50 MPs as the quorum.
Azimio sources told the Sunday Nation that many MPs are still bitter with committee placements and the House leadership.
Said a second-term MP: “Let the people they placed in the committees vote.”
With Azimio MPs out of the way, Kenya Kwanza lawmakers had an easy ride in the House while debating the JLAC report.