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Kenya Kwanza and Azimio shift election battle to control of top seats in Parliament

By Rose Kwamboka - Aug 18th 2022
Senators in session in March 2020. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

After the declaration of the presidential results, the battle now moves to the National Assembly and Senate where the jostling for position of Speaker and other top seats has begun in earnest.

A series of meetings by president-elect William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya indicated that each of the formations is not leaving anything to chance. 

The coveted seats of Speaker of both Houses, the majority, and minority leaders, and several chairpersons of parliamentary committees are up for grabs.

Ruto’s side has 163 MPs out of 290 seats in the National Assembly and 24 in the Senate, while Azimio la Umoja presidential running mate Martha Karua on Friday claimed they had 180 MPs and 22 senators.

Speakers of both Houses control a budget of Sh53 billion, according to the 2022/2023 financial year, besides managing business of the government.

Already the names of Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula (Kenya Kwanza) and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka (Azimio) have been fronted for National Assembly Speaker. Garissa MP Aden Duale, outgoing Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi of Kenya Kwanza and former Speaker Kenneth Marende (Azimio) have been proposed for the post of Senate Speaker.

In the Kenya Kwanza pre-election agreement, Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya party was to produce the National Assembly Speaker while Mr Kingi was to take over the Senate position.

A similar arrangement in Azimio had proposed that Marende, who dropped out of the Vihiga Senate seat race, would take over as Senate Speaker but the coalition party had left open the National Assembly Speaker slot.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said that no name had been proposed for National Assembly Speaker during the pre-election agreement, but Kalonzo had featured prominently in the last few days.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

“I would go for Kalonzo anytime. He has all it takes. Wiper leader anytime,” said Mr Wandayi.

Yesterday, Duale said they will have 180 MPs in Kenya Kwanza after 10 independent MPs-elect joined them with more expected.

“We have 163 legislators from the coalition and 10 independent lawmakers have since joined. There are other three from the small parties that were not in any coalition who have since joined us and six members that we will nominate makes the number 180,” said Duale.

MPs-elect from small parties expected to join Kenya Kwanza include Fabian Muli (Kangundo) and Abdi Ali Abd (Ijara).

“We are also going to battle for the four seats in Rongai, Kacheliba, Pokot South, and Kitui West and win at least three of them,” said Duale.  

The Garissa Township MP-elect accused Azimio of spreading untruths over their numbers in Parliament. He said they had even included leaders elected on Kingi’s PAA and Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap parties in their list despite having joined Kenya Kwanza.

In the Senate, Duale said Kenya Kwanza had 24 senators out of 47, Azimio had 22 senators while one senator was an independent.

He said a statement from Azimio during their meeting at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre that they were the majority coalition was misleading.

Twisting figures

“Certainly, lies, misrepresentation, twisting figures perhaps as an attempt to hype your supporters and create false hope can never be facts,” he said.

He said it was unfortunate that Azimio presidential running mate Martha Karua had publicly stated that they had 180 MPs.

The National Assembly and Senate, Nairobi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The National Assembly has a total membership of 349, out of which 12 are slots for nominated MPs based on respective party strengths in the House.

Duale said the results of three constituencies were still pending and elections for four constituencies were deferred.

Yesterday, Ruto met elected Kenya Kwanza leaders and announced that 10 independent MPs had joined them and would bolster their numbers in the House.

“We also have four MPs whose elections have not been carried out and we believe that all the four will come to Kenya Kwanza,” he said.

During the meeting at Ruto’s Karen residence, Nairobi, he gave his agenda before Parliament convenes next month. Wetang’ula exuded confidence that they will sweep all the seats in the National Assembly and the Senate.

“We already have the majority in the National Assembly, the Senate, and even in the Council of Governors. We will sweep all the seats. We are already talking to other parties to form a bigger number in the House so that we can fast-track government business,” he said.

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