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Battle over controversial law moves to Senate on Tuesday

By Moses Nyamori | Jan 7th 2022 | 3 min read

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka addressing delegates during the 7th Devolution Conference in Makueni on November 24, 2021. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The battle for numbers over the controversial Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021, is expected to be re-played in the Senate when members convene for a special sitting next Tuesday.

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka yesterday confirmed a proposal by Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio and his Minority counterpart, James Orengo, to convene and consider the Bill.

“We are going to have a special sitting because this Bill has timelines,” Lusaka told The Standard.

The Bill was passed by the National Assembly in acrimonious sessions that dragged on until Wednesday following the introduction of numerous amendments by MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto.

Yesterday, Ruto allies once again touted their numbers in the Senate even after MPs allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga whipped them in the National Assembly to reject all their amendments.

Ruto allies expressed confidence of marshalling at least 26 senators out of 47 elected members expected to vote.

In the National Assembly, the highest number of MPs that Ruto’s camp marshalled was 136. The House has 349 lawmakers.

The Ruto camp in the Senate has also indicated plans to introduce amendments to the Bill. Some of the clauses they seek to amend touch on formation of a coalition party and the time frame for entering such a coalition.

Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) has indicated that the Bill could end up in a mediation committee as the House was likely to introduce new amendments.

The disclosure points to a looming showdown in the Senate since backers of Azimio la Umoja — Raila’s preferred election vehicle — are keen to have the law in place to allow for registration of the movement as a coalition party. However, Poghisio has downplayed any possibility of confrontation in the Senate, saying that they will ensure the matter is dispensed with in the shortest time.

He said that consideration of the Bill will not take much time since the House has a small number compared to the National Assembly.

“We have to make sure the House does not degenerate to same levels that we saw in the National Assembly,” said Poghisio, also the West Pokot Senator.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said they will pull all stops to defeat the Bill. He claimed the Bill was being bulldozed through Parliament in disregard of the requirement for public participation.

“I can tell you that as UDA we are ready. We have numbers and we will show them,” said Cherargei. “We have 26 delegations (voting senators) caucusing with us. Things will be different because there will be no nominated senators to be intimidated”.

Kilonzo Jnr said the House will sit on Tuesday for the First Reading before committing the Bill to the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

The committee will then give about seven days for various stakeholders to give their views before holding public hearing sessions. It will then retreat to prepare a report to be tabled in the House during the Second Reading.

“We will make changes if we don’t agree with the document as passed by the National Assembly,” said Kilonzo Jnr.

He further said the House may reconsider the 120 days timeline set for entering a coalition.

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