President Ruto, Raila mass troops for House political battle

President William Ruto (left) and Azimio leader Raila Odinga. 

President William Ruto (left) and Azimio leader Raila Odinga. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Kenya Kwanza administration is steeling itself for tough political and legislative battles in the two Houses of Parliament in the days ahead. 

President William Ruto is today expected to host the fourth Kenya Kwanza Alliance parliamentary group meeting, a day after opposition leader Raila Odinga met senators allied to the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition in Nairobi.

Sources told the Nation that during yesterday’s meeting, Mr Odinga and the Azimio-allied senators discussed plans to strengthen parliamentary oversight and keep the executive arm of the government in check.

Both meetings came ahead of tomorrow’s vote in both the Senate and the National Assembly for new members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

There has been intense lobbying, with those eyeing the Arusha-based regional assembly reaching out to both Kenya Kwanza and Azimio leaders for support.

Major retreat

During the Azimio meeting, Mr Odinga also outlined plans for a major opposition retreat before the end of the year, where he is expected to launch a major drive to keep President Ruto’s administration on its toes and ensure it delivers its promises to Kenyans.

The PG meeting with opposition senators, which was chaired by Mr Odinga, was also attended by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Jubilee secretary-general Jeremiah Kioni, who represented retired President and Azimio council chairman Uhuru Kenyatta.

Azimio la Umoja leaders

From left: Wiper party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Azimio la Umoja Coalition Leader Raila Odinga, NARC-Kenya Party Leader Martha Karua and Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni arrive for the Azimio Parliamentary Group Meeting held at Stoni Athi Resort in Machakos County on September 16, 2022.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

According to sources at the meeting held at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation, Mr Odinga told the senators to remain steadfast and focused ahead of what he reportedly described as a vigorous encounter with the government to ensure that it fulfils its promises to Kenyans.

The Nation had earlier reported that Mr Odinga had given the government an ultimatum of 100 days to fulfil its pre-election promises or face “resistance from Kenyans”.

Dr Ruto was sworn into office on September 13, which means his first 100 days in office will end on December 24. It’s still not clear whether the retreat announced by Mr Odinga yesterday will come within that time, but sources at yesterday’s PG meeting said the gathering, which will involve all elected opposition leaders, will provide a road map for their actions in the coming days.

“Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka affirmed that the coalition has big plans in the coming days and will set up a secretariat from where the shadow Cabinet will operate to keep the government in close check,” a senator who attended the meeting told the Nation.

"Alternative leadership"

Another senator said Mr Odinga had told them that Kenyans were looking up to “Azimio to provide alternative leadership in the midst of challenges such as drought, insecurity, hard economic times and corruption”.

“He wants us to keep the government on its toes, particularly on the promises they are unable to deliver within the timeframe they proposed. He also wants us to ensure that the Kenya Kwanza administration acts within the law,” the senator said.

Those familiar with the plans told the Nation failure by the President to address the many economic issues that the country was facing, coupled with “unpopular policies”, could lead to widespread protests, which would negatively affect his administration.

To stop the Ruto government from further burdening Kenyans, they said, the opposition would have no option but to resort to “tax boycott, peaceful non-violent struggle, civil disobedience and other unspecified consequences”.

Today’s Kenya Kwanza parliamentary group meeting at State House is expected to discuss the proposed constitutional amendment Bill to entrench the National Government-Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) in the Constitution as well as the setting up of the Senate Oversight Fund (SOF).

President William Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and other Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders

President William Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and other Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders during a Parliamentary Group meeting in Naivasha, Nakuru County on September 17, 2022. 

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

Multiple interviews done by the Nation yesterday established that although the main item on the agenda of the PG meeting is deliberation on the coalition’s EALA choices, lawmakers want the President to make a pronouncement on the NG-CDF, whose disbursement they have vowed to push for before going on recess. “It is a joint PG with senators to reflect on our performance in the past one month and set new goals for the remaining part of this session. Matters of NG-CDF and Oversight funds will also feature,” said National Assembly Majority Whip Sylvanus Osoro.

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) chairman Johnson Muthama also confirmed today’s meeting but refused to divulge the agenda, just describing it as ‘housekeeping’.

Dr Ruto’s allies Nelson Koech (Belgut), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Mary Emase (Teso South), Brighton Yegon (Konoin), George Koimburi (Juja) and Timothy Toroitich (Marakwet West) intimated to the Nation yesterday that the meeting would determine who should be backed for the EALA seats.

For their part, Azimio MPs said plans were in place to ensure their oversight role is played to the full.

Yesterday, ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna confirmed attending the Azimio PG but told the Nation to await communication after the “upcoming retreat”.

Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi said yesterday’s meeting focused on the role of senators in the coalition, including plans to strengthen the leadership of the coalition.

Yesterday’s Azimio meeting also discussed what attendants described as plans by Kenya Kwanza to amend the IEBC Act as well as claims that IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati, despite acknowledging that he would be proceeding on terminal leave, “is still attending to IEBC matters and going to office every day.”

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