President Ruto requests Parliament to consider bill on office of opposition leader

President William Ruto at State House. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

President William Ruto has written to Speakers of both the National Assembly and Senate to consider the introduction of a constitutional amendment bill to set up the office of the official opposition leader.

In a letter to Speakers Moses Wetangula and Amason Kingi, Ruto said his request would help actualise the government's Constitutional mandate and deepen good governance.

"I believe that the idea of Official Opposition, above and beyond mere minority parliamentary leadership, makes tremendous sense in terms of institutionalising governance, strengthening oversight, and deepening democracy," he said.

Ruto has urged Parliament to consider amending Chapter 9, part four of the Constitution to allow for the establishment of the office of the official opposition leader, whose operations will be indicated.

During a recent Kenya Kwanza caucus, it emerged that the President is in a push for the return of the position.

Kangema MP Peter Kihungi said the president was keen to have a firm opposition to put his government in check. "He mobilised us to support the motion which may be presented to the National Assembly," the MP said.

According to Kihungi, Ruto was emphatic that whoever comes second in a presidential election had a huge following behind him and needed an office where his supporters can find him to discuss various issues affecting them.

The Head of State also wants Parliament to consider the return of the Constituency Development, Senate Oversight, and National Government Affirmative Action funds (CDF).

He argued that there are visible benefits of CDF, that respond to localised problems.

"CDF empowers legislators to perform their function of representation more effectively by keeping them in touch with the pulse of their constituencies. The CDF also makes the constituency a forum for continuous engagement on critical issues, and effective mobilisation to solve problems in the spirit of collective action. There is, therefore, a strong case to be made, rooted in the essence of the very idea of representative democracy, for the CDF to exist under an appropriate framework," the president said.

His request is despite Supreme Court's ruling in August terming the constituency fund illegal.

"It is essential, Honourable Speakers, that as leaders, we lead the way in following the law. It is equally paramount that we do not risk undermining our credibility by appearing to employ mischievous legalities and technicalities to skirt about constitutional boundaries," said Ruto.