Major clash in House on majority leader position

William Ruto

President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Mr Raila Odinga’s Azimio are headed for a major clash in the National Assembly over the leader of majority position after both staked claim to it.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Mr Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party are headed for a major clash in the National Assembly today over the leader of majority position after both staked claim to it.

The power struggle has already sucked in National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, with the Kenya Kwanza camp keen to have him rule in their favour.

The first business of the National Assembly following its official opening last Thursday shall be to form the House Business Committee (HBC).

House leaders sit on the HBC, which schedules business to be transacted, hence the urgency to settle the row. Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah (Kenya Kwanza) and his Ugunja colleague Opiyo Wandayi (Azimio) are tussling over the majority leader post.

“The Speaker will definitely be asked to make his considered determination on who is the leader of majority in the House today,” Mr Ichung’wah said. “But from where I sit, I am [that person] because Kenya Kwanza [has most MPs].”

Making similar claims, Mr Wandayi said the Speaker has no say in the matter as the law is “ as clear as it sounds”.

“There’s nothing to be ruled on. It’s not within the province of the Speaker to decide to the House where the leader of majority and minority should come,” he said, even as Belgut MP Nelson Koech insists that the Speaker has the final word.

Mr Wetang’ula has previously indicated that he will rule on the matter if brought to his attention.  While addressing the Kenya Kwanza Parliamentary Group meeting in Naivasha, Dr Ruto said his coalition is the majority in the National Assembly. Article 108 of the Constitution states the leader of the majority party shall be the person who is the leader in the House of the largest party or coalition of parties. It adds that the leader of minority party shall be the leader in the House of the second largest party or coalition of parties.

The National Assembly Standing Orders provide that in constituting the HBC membership, the Speaker shall be the chairman with leaders of majority and minority and the majority and minority whips becoming automatic members alongside nine other members.

If the House ratifies the names of the nine members to serve on the HBC, the House will rise for the day as the committee retreats to schedule the business to be transacted in the House tomorrow morning and afternoon, on Thursday afternoon and Tuesday next week. If the House fails to adopt the names, it will not sit because there will be no business to be transacted.

Azimio insists it’s the majority side in the National Assembly as confirmed by Registrar of Political Parties (RPP) Anne Nderitu in her September 7 letter to the acting Clerk of the National Assembly, Ms Serah Kioko. The letter shows that 26 political parties that signed the Azimio coalition agreement on April 21, got 185 MPs of the 349 MPs in the National Assembly compared to 164 that went to Kenya Kwanza including the 12 elected as independents in the August 9 polls.

 Among the parties that signed up are Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Wiper of Kalonzo Musyoka, Narc-Kenya of Martha Karua, Jubilee Party of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta and Narc of former Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu. However, the legitimacy of Azimio’s claim as the majority party in the House came into question after Maendeleo Chap Chap (MCC), United Democratic Movement (UDM), Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) and Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) quit Azimio for Kenya Kwanza.

Seeking to part ways

But what is left for the four parties to grapple with is that the Azimio coalition pact they signed barred any member party from leaving the coalition six months before August 9 or three months after the elections.

MCC belongs to former Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua now Cabinet Secretary nominee for Foreign Affairs, UDM is owned by Mr Ali Roba, the former Mandera Governor now Mandera Senator, PAA is led by former Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi now Senate Speaker and MDG of Ugenya MP David Ochieng.

Listing in her letter National Ordinary People Empowerment Union (Nopeu) with one MP as the party that is not a member of any coalition, Ms Nderitu told Ms Kioko that MDG, UDM and PAA have filed petitions at the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal (PPDT) seeking to part ways with Azimio.

Kenya Kwanza includes the President’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Amani National Congress (ANC) of Prime Cabinet Secretary nominee Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Wetang’ula’s Ford-K and Democratic Party of Kenya of Justin Muturi Ms Nderitu’s letter was in reference to the September 2 letter from Ms Kioko requesting for information on the political parties’ coalition agreements.

The National Assembly Standing Orders stipulate that the Clerk shall obtain from the RPP a certified copy of any coalition agreements signed by two or more parties in the National Assembly.

This is to aid ascertaining of the relative majorities and facilitating transaction of House business. The notification from the Office of the RPP will, therefore, be critical in determining the leaders of majority, their deputies and minority and their respective whips.

The House rules further provide that, when electing the leaders of the majority and minority parties and their deputies, members shall take into account any existing coalition agreement entered into pursuant to the Political Parties Act and the need for gender balance.

As per Ms Nderitu’s letter the 26 party’s under Azimio coalition are Jubilee Party, ODM, Wiper, Kanu, Narc, Narc-Kenya, Muungano Party, MCC, Democratic Action Party-Kenya, Devolution Empowerment Party, United Party of Independent Alliance, UDM, United Progressive Alliance, PAA, Kenya Union Party, United Democratic Party, MDG, Kenya Reform Party, Chama Cha Uzalendo, Party for Peace and Democracy, National Liberal Party, People’s Trust Party, Ubuntu People’s Forum, Party of National Unity, Labour Party of Kenya and Party for Growth and Prosperity.

The 15 parties under Kenya Kwanza are UDA, ANC, Ford- Kenya, Chama Cha Kazi, Communist Party of Kenya, The Service Party, Tubibebe Wakenya Party, Farmers Party, Devolution Party of Kenya, Economic Freedom Party, Umoja Maendeleo Party, Democratic Party of Kenya, National Agenda Party of Kenya, Grand Dream Development Party and Chama Cha Mashinani.

In the 67-member Senate, the contest is already settled as Kenya Kwanza has clinched the majority party with 36 Senators compared to Azimio’s 30 and one independent senator.

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