National Super Alliance senators have been summoned for a meeting this morning to discuss the removal of Moses Wetang'ula as Senate minority leader.
The parliamentary group meeting is yet another effort by Raila Odinga to save Wetang’ula, who was replaced by Orange Democratic Movement's (ODM) Siaya Senator James Orengo.
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On Tuesday NASA senators defied their principals and unanimously voted to replace Wetang’ula, sparking angry reactions from the affiliate parties of Ford Kenya, Amani National Congress (ANC), and Wiper.
The coup against the Bungoma senator has threatened the unity of the coalition, which brings together Raila (ODM), Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), and Musalia Mudavadi (ANC).
Sources claimed that ODM legislators were considering removing Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa (Ford Kenya) as Deputy National Assembly Minority Whip.
“It is a matter of time before Wamalwa is ejected like his party boss. We are watching keenly how he reacts to Wetang’ula's ouster before we strike,” an ODM member said.
Wamalwa said he was not aware of any move to dislodge him.
“I cannot comment on what I am not aware of. As of now that remains rumours,” the MP said.
Wetang'ula declined to comment on the planned meeting and it was unclear whether Kalonzo and Mudavadi would attend.
But in a meeting with about 10 members of the Bungoma county assembly in Parliament Buildings yesterday, Wetang'ula described the Tuesday coup as ill-advised and one that could have far-reaching political ramifications in the coalition.
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“I cannot be wished away in NASA. I was never invited to the coalition…I am an equal partner,” said Wetangu'la.
Kalonzo urged Orengo to step down for the sake of the coalition’s unity.
"We don't have to get to that. I want to call upon my friend Jim Orengo to decline this nomination so that he doesn't go down as the person who collapsed NASA," Kalonzo said.
Addressing journalists, Ford Kenya MP Vincent Mogaka (West Mugirango) asked Raila to prevail upon Orengo to decline the appointment so that Wetang’ula could be reinstated.
Mogaka said: “As Ford Kenya party, we are seriously considering our union with ODM. We saw this coming when Raila went to Uhuru Park to be sworn in without involving the other players.”
He blamed ODM for the current squabbles in NASA and asked the party to give the other partners a chance even if it was no longer interested in the coalition.
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However, some of the senators have vowed that they would not reconsider their decision to kick out Wetang'ula.
“The matter on leadership is a done and dusted deal. We will attend the (today's) meeting to discuss other coalition matters,” said a legislator who sought anonymity.
Orengo said NASA senators chose him to replace Wetang'ula because of his hard work and commitment in serving the alliance.
"I never campaigned to replace Wetang'ula. It is also not true that NASA will break up if I accept the post. It is the senators who decided to reward my hard work for Kenyans,” said Orengo.
In an interview on Citizen TV on Tuesday night, Orengo said his work in NASA spoke for itself. "When our people died, who was there? ....just look at the pictures and you will know who stood by the people... at least Passaris (Esther) was there.... We need to be honest. ODM's commitment was evident."
He added: "There are politicians in the Senate more senior than me but the senators still settled on me."
Another senator said: “Wetang'ula’s removal is a fait accompli and we are not going to revisit it when we meet tomorrow (today).”
Sources said Wetang’ula was pleased after Raila ordered the NASA chief officer to write to Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka communicating the Summit’s resolution to reinstate him.
He had hoped that Raila’s influence would prevail and have Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr decline to submit the resolution to Lusaka.
But Kilonzo Jnr is understood to have told Wetang’ula that he had no option but to submit the minutes and resolutions that consequently overrode the principals’ letter to the House.
Orengo hinted at a possible comeback of Wetang’ula after he said the matter would be discussed in today’s meeting.
Orengo told the TV host not to refer to him as the Senate minority leader until today’s meeting makes a final decision.
“Before I sit on the seat, I have to give a chance to the principals to go through what has taken place,” he said.
He denied claims that he was using the current wrangles in the coalition to take up the seat, explaining that the decision was reached by the senators themselves.
“We are not going against the organs of the coalition and are working on the fault lines that might be existing in the union,” Orengo said. [Geoffrey Mosoku, Moses Nyamori and John Oywa]
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