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Uhuru's men clash over last year's House purge

POLITICS
By Roselyne Obala | September 18th 2021

President Uhuru Kenyatta's men have clashed over last year's purge of Deputy President William Ruto's allies from House committees.

Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe accused National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi of dishonesty, saying he had been instrumental in the changes.

But Muturi immediately responded, clarifying that his sentiments during an interview had been taken out of context.

“The new carefully choreographed narrative that I am fighting President Uhuru Kenyatta is the result of mischief and an evil agenda to drive a wedge between us. This is among other narratives being peddled trying to portray a rift between the President and myself,” said Muturi in a statement to newsrooms.

On claims by Murathe that Muturi had been at the centre of the decision-making that resulted in the sacking of House and committee leaders allied to the deputy president, Muturi maintained that he was not a party official and therefore the purge could not have been under his purview.

He said he was satisfied that due process was followed in the discharge of party members in the current Parliament.

He, however, maintained his general opposition to "political party dictatorship", which does not follow due process nor affords members an opportunity to respond.

“I am a stronger opponent of political party dictatorship, which position I affirmed in the interview. However, in no way did I disown or castigate the discharge of the MPs from leadership in the National Assembly in the current Parliament because I am satisfied that due process was followed,” he said.

In his attack, Murathe said he was surprised that the speaker could turn around and criticise the action on Ruto’s allies. “We consulted him and he gave his input. The turnaround is surprising. We do not know who he is trying to please.”

He added: “He was instrumental in effecting the changes in Parliament. We followed procedure and even held two Parliamentary Group meetings at State House that resolved to eject the leaders. The other was at Kenya International Convention Centre (KICC) that removed Garissa Township MP Aden Duale as majority leader,” said Murathe.

On Wednesday, Muturi, who is eying the presidency, said MPs perceived to be going against party lines should be subjected to fair trial.

“If a party feels that a member has been errant, they should write to the member and merely notify the speaker, then take the member through a process.

"They should give the member a chance to defend themselves. You don’t just wake up and say ‘we are throwing you out. You are out in the cold.’ That is dictatorship,” he said.

Successive party actions ended the stints of Duale and Kipchumba Murkomen as majority leaders in the National Assembly and the Senate respectively, Kithure Kindiki as Senate’s deputy speaker and that of Susan Kihika and later Irungu Kang’ata as Senate’s majority whips. Several lawmakers were also ejected as chairpersons of several parliamentary committees.

The Saturday Standard understands that it was Muturi who pleaded on behalf of Duale during the State House Parliamentary Group meeting, which sealed the fate of former majority whip Ben Washiali (Mumias East) and his then deputy Cecily Mbarire (nominated).

They were later replaced by Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo) and Maoka Maore (Igembe North).

According to Muturi, changes to Standing Orders initiated in the last Parliament were to ensure party discipline does not affect House performance. In the 11th Parliament, Raila Odinga’s ODM and Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper parties de-whipped members from committees for failing to toe the official line.

“We saw this problem earlier and amended Standing Orders to ensure due process is followed. If it was not, Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi could be out of Parliament after ANC delisted him,” said Muturi in his statement. 

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