The simmering row between National Super Alliance (NASA) affiliate parties over leadership positions in Parliament deepened when a decision to replace some MPs was rejected.
The decision to swap Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr of Wiper party and Vihiga Senator George Khaniri (Amani National Congress) to end the stalemate over Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) posts has divided NASA further.
NASA principals – Raila Odinga (Orange Democratic Movement), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula – were said to have agreed to have Mr Kilonzo resign as the Senate minority whip and take up Wiper’s slot in PSC.
In the agreement, confirmed by multiple sources, Mr Khaniri would assume the position in a bid to end the protracted wrangles over the Opposition's three slots in the powerful commission.
“It is a done deal. The principals agreed the coalition submits names of Senator Mutula, Gladys Wanga (ODM) and Aisha Jumwa (ODM) as our nominees. Khaniri is to replace Mutula as Senate minority whip,” one of the sources said.
National Assembly Leader of Minority John Mbadi confirmed that the principals had agreed on nominees to the commission. He said the names were already with his office for submission to Speaker Justin Muturi today.
“I already have the names with me and will forward them tomorrow (today). It should be clear that the list must come from my office. Nobody, apart from the minority leader, can submit the names,” said Mr Mbadi.
Last week, Mr Muturi directed NASA to submit nominees' names by today, after three failed attempts to constitute the commission, which caters for the welfare of MPs.
But in a new twist that could throw the coalition into further wrangles, Kilonzo said no decision had been reached for him to resign and take up a PSC post.
He however confirmed attempts by Opposition honchos to have him step down as minority whip.
“I am aware of proposals made and I have been consulted at high levels, but no concrete decisions have been made. Senator Khaniri will battle it out to the bitter end,” he said yesterday.
The crisis has been compounded by reports that Khaniri has also insisted on taking up the PSC slot and is not ready for the Senate minority whip position.
An ANC MP who sought anonymity yesterday said Khaniri considered the PSC slot to be more lucrative than the whip position hence his pushing for his name to remain as a nominee.
“Khaniri is of the opinion that he should remain NASA’s nominee for PSC. This refusal complicates the matter. Khaniri is of the view that the commission is more lucrative. That is why he is against the decision to swap them,” said the MP.
The decision to swap Khaniri and Mutula was informed by Wiper's insistence that it deserved a slot in PSC because it was a parliamentary party.
Originally, Kilonzo was meant to take up one PSC slot and Khaniri would become the minority whip.
Even with this back and forth battle over slots, the Opposition faces further hurdles after President Uhuru Kenyatta instructed Jubilee Party MPs to reject Ms Wanga and Khaniri's nominations.
But Mbadi said they expected the Jubilee MPs to approve all their nominees.