Immediate former Senator of Bungoma County Moses Wetangula has been elected the Speaker of the National Assembly.
He was sworn into office at 7:30pm on Thursday, September 8.
Wetangula overcame competition from Kenneth Marende, who had been fronted by Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya, to win the Speaker contest held in the chambers of the National Assembly.
Wetangula now becomes the eighth Speaker of the National Assembly.
His predecessors are Sir Humphrey Slade (1967-1970), Fred Gideon Mbiti (1970-1988), Moses Arap Keino (1988-1991), Jonathan Arap Ng’eno (1991-1993), Francis Ole Kaparo (1993-2008), Kenneth Marende (2008-2013) and Justin Muturi (2013-2022).
Wetangula was on Thursday evening declared the winner of the speaker race after one round of voting.
In the first round of voting, there was no clear winner as neither Wetangula nor Marende attained the two-thirds majority.
Wetangula got 215 votes out of the maximum 349, while Marende got 130 votes.
The winning candidate was required to garner 233 votes in the first round of voting to be declared the winner.
In failure of that, the second round of voting needed just a simple majority for the winner to be confirmed.
However, Marende withdrew from the Second Round of voting, prompting the Acting Clerk of the National Assembly Sarah Kioko to declare Wetangula the winner.
“Honourable members, we should be proceeding to the next round of voting. However, I have received a written communication from one of the candidates, Kenneth Marende, indicating that he does not wish to proceed to the second round of voting. This has been witnessed by Suna East MP Junet Mohamed,” said Kioko on Thursday evening.
The Standard has since obtained a copy of Marende’s letter to Kioko.
In the signed letter, Marende said: “I, Honourable Kenneth Marende, hereby confirm that I do not wish to proceed as a candidate to the next round of voting for the position of Speaker of the National Assembly.”
A total of 346 out of the maximum 349 MPs voted in the first round.
There was one rejected vote, while three MPs did not vote.
The Standard understands that one MP was ailing, another was yet to be sworn in while the whereabouts of the third remained unclear.
Prior to the voting, after the swearing-in of the MPs, Azimio-affiliated lawmakers had asked Clerk Kioko to disqualify Wetangula from the race, saying there was no evidence to prove he’d resigned as the Senator-elect for Bungoma County.
Ruaraka MP Tom Joseph Kajwang had said that Wetangula was not fit to hold the Speaker’s seat, saying his past had been blighted by integrity issues.
Acting National Assembly Clerk Kioko, however, ruled him out, saying Wetangula had been cleared to run for Senate after attaining requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity.
Kioko also said that there was evidence to prove that Wetangula resigned from his Senate seat as required by the law.
“I am in receipt of a letter [written by Moses Wetangula] dated August 29, 2022 addressed to the Speaker of the Senate informing him of his decision to resign as the Senator-elect for Bungoma County,” said Kioko.
Despite the brief impasse, the MPs, thereafter, embarked on voting, with a few of the lawmakers spoiling their ballot papers by ticking against both candidates.
The Clerk of the National Assembly had to conduct a mini civic education on how to properly vote.
About Moses Wetangula
The 65-year-old first joined the National Assembly in January 1993, when he was nominated to Parliament by KANU Party.
Wetangula, a lawyer by profession, served as a Nominated MP between 1993 and 1997.
He had brief time away from Parliament between 1997 and 2002 after losing in the Sirisia parliamentary election.
In the December 2002 general election, he was elected to the National Assembly to represent Sirisia Constituency. He vied on Ford-Kenya Party ticket.
Wetangula served as Sirisia MP between January 9, 2003 and January 2013.
During his stint as MP, Wetangula served in several ministerial positions, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2008 and 2010, and again in the same capacity between August 2011 and March 2012.
Prior to that, he’d served as the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2003 and 2008.
In 2013, Moses Wetangula was elected the pioneer Senator of Bungoma County. He ran on Ford-Kenya Party ticket.
He’d served in the capacity between 2013 and 2022, when he resigned in August, 2022 to pursue his interest in the National Assembly Speaker seat.
Wetangula had been fronted by the Kenya Kwanza Coalition, which is headed by President-elect William Ruto.
His election as National Assembly Speaker makes him the third most-powerful leader in Kenya after the president and the deputy president.
This is based on the order of precedence in regard to the hierarchy of leadership in Kenya.
The speaker’s functions
The speaker presides over debates in the House and, though quite rarely, in the committee of the Whole of House.
He or she is the spokesperson of the House. As a presiding officer, the speaker ensures the orderly flow of business and that the House observes parliamentary rules and traditions, both written and unwritten.