How Ruto beat Raila's Azimio to take control of 13th Parliament

Amason Kingi (left) and Moses Wetang'ula were elected Speaker of the National Assembly and Senate respectively. [File, Standard]

A series of defections from the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition soon after President-elect William Ruto was declared the winner of the August 9 presidential election was the masterstroke that made all the difference on Thursday during the election of two speakers of Parliament.

The election was to be the final battle in a long drawn-out electioneering pitting Dr Ruto against Raila Odinga and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta.

But there was no battle once the referee called the contest. The one side that had a majority was outwitted to the point its numbers withered away, like ice cubes in a glass of water.

Although Ruto's move to lure defectors was criticised, with Azimio accusing him of clawing back on democratic gains the country has made in recent years, it was worth its weight in gold for the man who will on Tuesday become Kenya's fifth President.

Ruto's loyalists, Moses Wetang'ula and Amason Kingi were elected Speaker of the National Assembly and Senate respectively.

While Kenneth Marende, the Azimio candidate, opted out of the race after losing with a huge margin in the first round, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka withdrew from the Senate speakership race claiming the process was marred by corruption and bribery.

Kingi received 46 votes to become the first speaker in a long time to win the seat in the first round. The votes were 11 more than Kenya Kwanza's strength of 35 seats, meaning the new speaker benefitted from a critical mass of Azimio lawmakers, a majority of whom had walked on him claiming he had failed the integrity test when he served as Kilifi governor.

In the National Assembly, Wetang'ula had to wither an initial storm, started by Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang, who claimed the former Bungoma senator had not tendered his resignation before he contesting.

Equally, Uasin Gishu Woman Rep Gladys Shollei and Meru Senator Murungi Kathuri sailed through as deputy speakers to affirm the invincibility of Kenya Kwanza's stranglehold on the legislature.

While Kenya Kwanza was widely expected to win the four seats, the ease with which the victory came was a surprise largely because Azimio had promised a bruising battle on account of its majority in both Houses.

With about two days before he is sworn into office, Ruto had all his stars aligned, buoyed by virtue of being the incoming President. He could afford to dangle carrots and sway the thinking of the 416 MPs.

Post-election agreements

Ruto lured all 12 MPs elected as Independents to his fold. He would follow it up with signing post-election agreements with United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the Movement of Democracy and Growth (MDG).

The two political parties are led by Mandera Senator Ali Roba and Ugenya MP David Ochieng.

While MDG has one MP in the National Assembly, UDM has 10 MPs in both Houses out of which seven are in the National Assembly. It has three senators, two elected and one nominated and its decision was one of the game changers.

Until Thursday, Azimio had insisted it remains the majority party in both Houses. This argument is based on the law and the fact that the defections of the MPs and the disengagement of some political parties from their coalitions is what it insists a demonstration of impunity as it was done against the law governing political parties.

Azimio's anger against the defections was all over the Senate floor on Thursday as the Azimio senators tried to convince Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye to suspend the sitting until the question of who is the majority is settled.


The decision by Kalonzo to withdraw from the race only sullied matters for the lawmakers who after a meeting in the Senate decided to equally boycott the elections while advancing the determination of the question of majority in the House as an excuse.

"The question of which party or coalition is in the majority is very important. It will determine the outcome of the vote," said Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki, urging the Clerk to suspend the sitting until the question was determined.

"Going into the last election, UDM was part of Azimio coalition. I can see they are sitting on the same side with those from Kenya Kwanza this is a violation of the Political parties Act that some of us in this chamber only enacted not long. UDM's presence in Kenya Kwanza is against the law," he said.

Although none of the senators was willing to comment, it has emerged that Azimio is seeking a legal opinion on whether it can move to court and get orders nullifying the post-election agreement Ruto has signed with its affiliates. Apart from UDM and MDG, there are also Alfred Mutua's Maendeleo Chap Chap and Pamoja African Alliance (PAA). Both of these parties have two elected MPs each.

Registrar of Political parties Anne Nderitu maintains that any political party can only belong to one coalition at a time.

"As far as we are aware, the only agreements that my office is aware of are those signed before the election. Nothing has been brought to us to indicate that things have changed," she said, adding that her office will wait for the filing of the new agreements to make a determination which one was made outside the law.

At least 10 senators and 24 National Assembly members defied their party's position.

[email protected]

The Standard
Subscribe for the KES1999 KES999 offer today!