Speaker Moses Wetangula rules Kenya Kwanza has majority in National Assembly

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula. [File, Standard]

Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetangula has ruled that Kenya Kwanza has the majority number of MPs in the House.

Wetangula, in his ruling read in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon, October 6, said Kenya Kwanza Coalition had marshalled more MPs in the House, with some of the parties that previously belonged to Azimio la Umoja professing support for Kenya Kwanza after the August 9, 2022 General Election.

The speaker said coalitions are not "cast in stone", and that the membership can change before or after elections.

"Coalitions are not cast in stone and are an evolving arrangement which can occur both prior to and after the elections," said Wetangula.

According to the speaker, after 2022 post-election agreements were entered into, Kenya Kwanza pushed its membership to 179 MPs against Azimio la Umoja's 157.

Before that, he observed that Azimio la Umoja had 171 MPs against Kenya Kwanza's 165 MPs.

After the elections, some 14 MPs, who were members of parties affiliated to Azimio la Umoja, shifted allegiance to Kenya Kwanza, with Wetangula saying the MPs are now members of the President William Ruto-led coalition.

The speaker also stated that the Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu filed responses to his office in regard to membership of the coalitions quite late, hence making it difficult for him to verify validity of the report.

"The Registrar [of Political Parties] submitted documents sought by the Clerk of the National Assembly, including coalition agreements, more than six weeks after the request was made," said Wetangula.

Some of the political parties that have sought to formally cut ties with Azimio la Umoja are Maendeleo Chap Chap (MCC), Pamoja African Alliance (PAA), the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG).

"These parties have filed constitutional petitions and objections in regard to their membership of Azimio la Umoja," said Wetangula.

The speaker said UDM, for instance, had formally asked his office to have all its seven MPs linked to Kenya Kwanza, and not Azimio la Umoja.

"Several members of Azimio la Umoja have written letters to my office to disassociate from the coalition," said Wetangula.

The speaker observed that attempts to force political parties to remain loyal to a particular coalition would be akin to limiting their political rights.

"Some members alleged coercion and duress while entering into agreements with one of the coalitions. This, if true, is a serious affront to the democratic rights and freedoms that we enjoy as citizens of this country. As a seasoned lawmaker and a lawyer, I note that the political freedoms granted to Kenyans by the Bill of Rights must be taken very seriously in the affairs of political parties. If I were to rely on the coalition agreements tabled before this House, I will find great fault in any provision seeking to limit the political rights of members of this House."

The speaker said he'd have waited for the coalition membership petitions to be heard and determined before making a final decision, but owing to constitutional timelines on formation of key House committees, he was forced to decide on which coalition has more members to take up the majority leadership.

Wetangula said committee on appointments that vets nominated Cabinet members, among other functions, should be set up soon.

This, he said, will allow for Cabinet Secretary nominees to be vetted and subsequently appointed.

Wetangula said, if aggrieved by the ruling, members of Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition can seek legal redress.