Happening Now: National Assembly holds first plenary sitting
President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta has crafted a series post-election deals to advance his government’s legislative agenda and possibly protect himself against possible impeachment.
Working closely with Deputy President-elect William Ruto, the incoming President has been able to pull to his side the New Ford Kenya, the independence party Kanu, Chama cha Uzalendo (CCU) and the Alliance Party of Kenya (APK).
Negotiations with the United Democratic Forum (UDF) are ongoing.
The Jubilee Coalition, which won the March 4 elections, had signed deals with the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) and Ford People before the elections to fight competition from the Coalition of Reforms and Democracy (CORD) led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Mr Kenyatta got 6.1 million votes to defeat Mr Odinga who got 5.3 million.
While signing a deal with Kanu on Wednesday, the President-elect Kenyatta said: “We want to join hands, work together and move the country to the next level.”
While that is the public statement, Mr Kenyatta knows that he has a rival in Mr Odinga who even after the Supreme Court dismissed his petition will not sit back or exit the political arena.
Secondly, he and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, are facing charges at International Criminal Court in The Hague relating to the 2007/2008 post-election violence. The trial hearings begin on July 9 and May 28, 2013 for Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto respectively.
Thirdly, the two had to be cleared by the High Court to contest the election after civil society groups went to court to challenge their eligibility to vie for elective seats on integrity grounds.
On Thursday, Elgeyo Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen, while being interviewed by a local TV station, acknowledged that the two will be taking over power at a time when the country is deeply divided after the elections.
“It is their duty to unite the people of Kenya,” Mr Murkomen said.
To avoid such divisions from hindering its efforts to unite the country, the new leadership has moved fast to bring on board other parties to get a majority in the National Assembly and the Senate in case of a motion targeting their integrity or any grounds for possible impeachment.
Given that the current membership of the National Assembly stands at 349 and 67 for the Senate, the President-elect will require 233 MPs and 45 Senators to fight off any move to cut short his presidency.
Unity of the country
Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa, who is the New Ford Kenya leader, Kanu secretary general Nick Salat and UDF’s Jeremiah Kioni said they had agreed to work with Jubilee for the unity of the country and delivery of services.
The deals which they have signed, except UDF which is yet to, have been deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties, they said on Thursday.
The Jubilee Coalition, which brings together The National Alliance (TNA) and United Republican Party (URP), has 167 MPs in the National Assembly. The deals they have signed have increased their numbers to 195 and should they hammer a deal with UDF, this will increase to 206, just 28 short of a constitutional majority.
New Ford-K and Kanu have six MPs each, APK (five), Narc (four), CCU (two), Ford-P (three), Narc Kenya (one) and Federal Party of Kenya (one).
Independent MPs John Serut (Mt Elgon) and Gatobu Kinoti (Buuri) have agreed to work with Jubilee, meaning that the Jubilee Coalition is short of 25 MPs to reach the constitutional majority. Talks are on with other two FPK MPs from Busia and Vihiga.
On its part, Cord has 130 MPs comprising ODM (95), Wiper (25) and Ford-Kenya (10).
In the Senate, Jubilee has increased its numbers to 39, requiring just six Senators to reach the magical figure of 45. In this House, Cord has 27 members.
Speaking on Thursday, Mr Wamalwa said: “We agreed to cooperate wit Jubilee in the House and outside. The deal has been deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties and we will be involved in all matters of government, including appointments.”
Mr Salat said Kanu’s MPs and Senators will work with the Jubilee Coalition with expectation of heading House committees and any other possible appointments.
“We will fully participate in all aspects of governance. We will take keen interest in seeing if they can give us one or two seats because the agreement says they will consider Kanu in all facets of government,” he said.
Mr Kioni, the Amani Coalition presidential running mate, said UDF had agreed in principle to support Jubilee and the details were being worked on.
“Negotiations are going on. We have agreed that we will be working with Jubilee. It is them we are waiting to thrash out the rest of the details,” he said.
On Thursday, Mr Kenyatta also held talks with President Daniel arap Moi at Kabarnet Gardens residence in Nairobi.
“The President-elect and the former president discussed the swearing-in ceremony and other issues of national importance,” a Presidential Press Services (PPS) statement to newsrooms.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Mr Salat attended the meeting.