Respect Azimio, Raila tells Kingi in row over Senate changes

Azimio leader Raila Odinga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga during a service at Christ the King Catholic Church Mitume in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County, before heading for a rally in Kitale town, on February 26, 2023.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Senate Speaker Amason Kingi is frustrating the opposition by refusing to communicate leadership changes made by the minority side, Azimio leader Raila Odinga has said.

Wading into the issue that has dragged on since last month, the former prime minister said the Speaker should not interfere with political leadership.

He wondered why the former Kilifi Governor had been “dragging his feet’ in effecting the changes even before a tribunal stepped in.

Mr Odinga, also leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), noted that the opposition had its reasons for making the changes at the Senate.

He further castigated Mr Kingi, once an ODM party member, saying he has allowed external interference into the Senate, which is preventing it from functioning as it should.

“Azimio decided to change its leadership in the Senate last month yet nothing has happened to date. When political parties change their leadership, it should be respected, not interfered with by the Speaker or any other person,” said Mr Odinga.

“Clearly there is a challenge as the Speaker has not been willing to allow the changes. The Speaker should respect Azimio.”

Mr Odinga spoke Tuesday after a brief lunch meeting with senators allied to the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition.

He also said a precedent had been set, in a ruling by former Speaker Francis Ole Kaparo, for Parliament proceedings to never be injuncted.

“Parliament cannot be injuncted while conducting its mandated. I am therefore surprised the Senate allowed such a thing to happen,” he said.

“I don’t understand how the Speaker is now saying that he is listening to the tribunal yet there is a set precedent.”

Last month, Azimio suffered a major setback in its bid to change its leadership in the Senate after the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal suspended communication of the proposed changes.

The order stopped the Senate Speaker from communicating changes to the minority side of the House pending the hearing and determination of a petition filed before it by minority whip Fatuma Dullo, who is the senator of Isiolo County.

The changes Mr Odinga announced over a week ago included Ms Dullo replacement with Senator Ledama ole Kina.

However, the changes have not been communicated as Deputy Speaker Kathure Murungi stopped the process, maintaining he would respect the tribunal’s orders.

He said he had planned to communicate the changes before the Speaker’s office was served with orders against this.