Ruto in new push for return of office of the opposition leader

President William Ruto.  [Samson Wire, Standard]

President William Ruto has urged leaders elected under the Kenya Kwanza Alliance to support efforts to reintroduce the office of the official leader of the opposition. 

According to MPs who spoke to The Standard, the president during a Kenya Kwanza caucus on Monday announced that his administration will sponsor amendment of various laws to among other things create the office of a strong opposition leader.  

Kangema MP Peter Kihungi said the president was keen to have a firm opposition to put his government in check. “He mobilised us to support the motion which may be presented to the National Assembly on Thursday (tomorrow),” the MP said.  

According to Kihungi, Ruto was emphatic that whoever comes second in a presidential election had a huge following behind him and needed an office where his supporters can find him to discuss various issues affecting them. 

Another MP who did not wish to be named said although the office of the opposition leader was not being tailor-made for Azimio La Umoja leader Raila Odinga, the president appeared to appreciate that the ODM leader cannot be wished away.

“The President seemed to appreciate that he narrowly defeated his main opponent of course without saying it and that is why he summoned us to support the initiative. But he maintained that the office was not specifically for Raila but for the purposes of today and in future,” an MP from Kiambu County added. 

The official Office of the Opposition Leader, according to the legislators, will have staff duly paid and facilitated by taxpayers and the Ruto-led administration will be consulting to see whether its holder could be allowed to address Parliament. 

“These are the nitty-gritties that will be captured by the leader of government business before the motion is brought to the floor of the House,” said an MP.

The President made the announcement in a closed-door evening session with the MPs at the meeting.

Earlier Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua had opened the Kenya Kwanza National Assembly conference on legislative matters.

During the caucus, Gachagua moved to quell the bad blood between Mt Kenya region MPs and those from Rift Valley especially after those from the Rift joined hands with the opposition to threaten an ouster motion against Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria.  

“We were read the riot act and instructed to issue press briefings as the ruling party without involving the opposition,” said an MP from Kirinyaga County. 

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