The fate of nominated MP Sabina Chege as the National Assembly Deputy Minority Whip now lies with Speaker Moses Wetang'ula as the House resumes its sittings next week.
The move to de-whip Chege was put on hold by Wetang'ula last month, arguing that the Azimio la Umoja one Kenya Coalition did not provide for a replacement as provided for in the House Standing Orders (SO).
On Tuesday after the Azimio Parliamentary Group (PG), the party settled on Embakasi West MP Mark Mwenje as Sabina’s replacement.
Since shifting her allegiance to the Kenya Kwanza administration and leading the faction that sought to topple the Jubilee Party (JP) leadership, where she was named acting Party Leader to replace Uhuru Kenyatta.
Focus now shift to Wetan'gula as his 30 days window for Sabina lapses.
“We recognise Hon. Mwenje is a committed, consistent, energetic and youthful fighter who has shown the will to stand up for the people and the party. We have no doubt that he will prove equal to the task,” reads the resolution of the Azimio coalition.
The naming of the replacement Deputy Minority Whip fulfils one of the conditions the coalition was given by Wetang'ula.
This now sets in motion an official communication from Mr Wetang'ula who had last month refused to allow Azimio to make changes in its leadership citing lack of a replacement of Ms Chege.
Mr Wetang'ula pointed out that once a parliamentary party has designated a Whip or a Deputy Whip, the only subsequent change that it may make with regard to the two positions is a replacement of the person designated as a whip or deputy whip and not removal without a replacement.
Just before the National Assembly proceeded to its long recess, Mr Wetang'ula had given Azimio 30 days to put its house in order and send him one communication on the changes it intends to make on its leadership in the House.
“I hereby grant the Minority Party a period of 30 days from today within which to convey the appropriate communication on the replacement of its Deputy Minority Whip, if it so wishes,” Mr Wetang'ula ruled.
Serving his first term under the Jubilee Party ticket, choosing Mr Mwenje as the Azimio preferred choice is likely to silence the faction in the party who are supporting the government who had argued that Azimio intends deny Jubilee the slot.
While opposing the ouster of Ms Chege, some of the Jubilee lawmakers allied to EALA MP Kanini Kega faction maintained that they will not allow the position to be taken away from the party.
They argued that they had already been denied a slot in the powerful Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) yet their numbers put them as a parliamentary power.
The Azimio coalition has maintained that it will not allow any interference with its affiliate parties by the Kenya Kwanza administration.
“We reiterate that Azimio will do everything possible to protect affiliate parties from heinous attacks. We will do whatever it takes to protect multiparty democracy for which many Kenyans lost their lives,” the coalition said.
The Raila Odinga led coalition said that Kenya Kwanza has already indicated willingness to commit in writing to respect the ruling of the Political Parties Tribunal confirming the Jubilee Party leadership.
Last week, the tribunal reinstated Jeremiah Kioni (Secretary General), David Murathe (vice chairperson) and Kagwe Gichohi as the national treasurer.
“Pending the hearing and determination of the application (filed by Kioni) inter parties, interim conservatory orders are hereby issued staying the decision delivered by the Jubilee Party National Disciplinary Committee on May 10, 2023 to expel Murathe, Kioni and Gichohi from the leadership of the party,” the tribunal ruled.
The tribunal also barred the registrar of political parties Anne Nderitu from acting on any communication from the Jubilee Party and its NDC purporting to expel Mr Kioni, Murathe and Gichohi from the party
This means that the speaker cannot recognize any communication from the Kanini Kega led faction which was one of the factors that made him not to accept the changes sought by Azimio last month.
In his ruling delivered on May 4, Mr Wetangula said he has received numerous correspondences from different factions of the party hence cannot make a decision on any of them.
In the Senate, efforts by Speaker Amason Kingi to forestall the ouster of Jubilee’s Senator Fatuma Dullo as Minority Whip also faced a backlash from Azimio senators who stalled House business.
Kingi bowed to pressure and eventually communicated the changes, announcing Narok Senator Ole Kina as the Minority Whip, deputized by his Nairobi counterpart Edwin Sifuna.