More allies of Deputy President William Ruto are set to lose their State security and leadership positions in Parliament, sources have revealed.
This, as three more MPs from central Kenya had their bodyguards withdrawn, with the sources saying at least 20 leaders were targeted in the action directed at lawmakers close to Ruto.
It also emerged that the crackdown against Ruto’s allies, known as Tanga Tanga team, could extend to the National Assembly and the Senate with a plot to remove them from the leadership of various committees.
Sources within the presidency said there was unease that some of the top positions in both Houses were held by outspoken Jubilee senators and Members of the National Assembly seen to be more loyal to Ruto.
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The looming purge in Parliament will target those who have consistently contradicted President Uhuru Kenyatta in the war against corruption.
“The President is very angry, especially with MPs from his backyard. He is focused on building his legacy, but there are leaders who have consistently defied his calls to focus their energies on development and not 2022 presidential politics,” disclosed a close confidant of the President.
Tiaty MP William Kamket alluded at a meeting in Nairobi of the plan within the Jubilee party to de-whip MPs allied to Ruto.
“Time for talk is over. For those who are not following what the President is saying, they should begin their journey out of Government. Since the Deputy President is protected by the Constitution and cannot be sacked, his generals, beginning with the Leader of Majority in the Senate, Leader of Majority in the National Assembly and some committee chairpersons, should leave immediately,” Mr Kamket said.
The Senate Majority Leader is Kipchumba Murkomen, while his counterpart in the National Assembly is Aden Duale. Senate Majority Whip is Susan Kihika, National Assembly Majority Whip Ben Washiali and Budget and Appropriation Committee chairman Kimani Ichung’wa. All are also reportedly targeted for removal from House leadership posts.
Senators Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) and Samson Cherargei (Nandi) as well as MPs William Cheptumo (Baringo North) and David Pkosing (Pokot South) have also reportedly been earmarked for removal from House committees.
MPs Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Faith Gitau (Nyandarua Woman Rep) and Sabina Chege (Murang’a Woman Rep) were the latest leaders to have their security detail recalled.
So far one governor, a senator and at least 10 MPs, especially from central Kenya, have been targeted in the drastic action that has also affected county executive committee members who have been enjoying armed escorts.
The official explanation from Police Spokesman Charles Owino is that the withdrawal is in line with the police transformation agenda launched last September.
“There was a resolution that protection services fall under the Administration Police. In the past, security officers could be drawn from the AP, Regular or General Service Unit,” Mr Owino said.
But a top official said the officers were recalled after they accompanied the lawmakers to public events where Uhuru was attacked.
“They stand guard as their subjects abuse their Commander-in-Chief. The MPs will get guards on a needs basis. There is no law compelling the National Police Service to provide the legislators with bodyguards,” said the official.
It would appear that the battle between the rival Jubilee camps - Tanga Tanga and Kieleweke - will now be in Parliament
An MP allied to Uhuru, however, said it would not be easy to oust Mr Washiali and committee chairpersons, citing the number of MPs on Ruto’s side.
“Talks of removing them from House leadership positions are there, but it would not be an easy task. Ruto has many people in Parliament. Even within NASA he has sympathisers who may vote in support of his allies,” said the MP.
Mr Ichung’wa, who is out of the country on official budget committee work, remained defiant, saying there were those undermining the Office of the Deputy President “by spewing insults at him every weekend”.
“Nobody can defy the President and those politicking are those who have taken it upon themselves to undermine the office of the DP. They should focus on delivery and foster both party and national unity,” he said.
The DP’s lieutenants were emphatic that should the purge materialise, those in the Kieleweke team, led by nominated MP Maina Kamanda, who heads a parliamentary committee, should also not be spared.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa dared Jubilee to bring on the ouster Motions against his Tanga Tanga colleagues, saying they would defeat it.
“That could be a plot by a few individuals with self-entitlement. But we are telling them to bring it on,” Mr Barasa said.
Washiali denied any knowledge of plans to drop him from the House leadership position. “I am not aware of any plot to remove me from the position of majority whip.”
Mr Cheptumo denied being targeted but cautioned that in the event heads of committees were dropped, the law should guide the process.
“Constitution of the House committees is provided for in the Standing Orders. Should anybody perceive that the leadership requires to be altered, then they know the right channel to follow,” said Cheptumo.
Kipkelion West MP Hilary Koskei said Uhuru should make his position clear on the issues bedeviling Jubilee.
“You cannot tell the other side to keep quiet and leave the other. President Uhuru has never confirmed his position on this matter. It is high time a parliamentary group meeting is called and the Jubilee position taken so that those who defy are dealt with,” he said.
Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju, however, denied that there was a plan to topple parliamentary committee leadership, stating that Uhuru was focused on uniting the country.