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Questions raised on Parliament's independence, representation

Kiama contends that the three arms of government - Legislature, Executive and Judiciary - were anchored in the 2010 Constitution to oversight each other and protect Kenyans' interests, but that Parliament was now working for the Executive's "selfish interests".

"Parliament failed to consider the protests against the Finance Bill, which are on record, and it has also failed to consult Kenyans on many policies. Parliament is losing its independence, failing in its role to protect the public, and has disregarded the input of the public," said Kiama.

Others have claimed that the Executive is abusing public participation procedure to pass "unconstitutional" bills and policies.

Kitutu Chache South MP Antony Kibagendi agrees that the 13th Parliament has failed the independence test and had failed to serve Kenyans after their input in the Finance Bill went largely unconsidered.

Kibagendi claimed that some of Opposition members had been compromised to support the Kenya Kwanza agenda.

Kenya is going south because some MPs are too loyal to President William Ruto and his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, he claimed, adding that they no longer care about the hard economic times Kenyans are going through.

"Parliament has failed because some leaders are serving the presidency and not Kenyans who voted for them. We should rise above party politics in Parliament when it comes to issues affecting Mwananchi," opined Kibagendi.

"To make it worse, some Opposition MPs have been compromised by the Executive, and that's why they were nowhere during the voting."

However, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said in a video that has emerged online that MPs must respect party positions and vote as directed by President William Ruto, or else they should be ready to face harsh consequences.

The senator, who was speaking about the controversial Finance Act, said that those who go against the president should be punished for disobedience.

He added, "We must allow what we call party positions; if the party has directed that you take a certain position, one must follow it; otherwise, you'll be dealt with according to the law."

Former Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando said it was too early to judge the current Parliament but called on them to put the interests of Kenyans first and develop policies that would well serve the nation.

"We have a country to protect, and the laws and policies we pass should be for us and future generations. Every leader should put aside personal interests and focus on building a great nation," said Kabando.

Political analyst Martin Andati said President Ruto will have an upper hand in Parliament for the next five years since he has majority MPs on his side.

"We agree President Ruto has numbers in Kenya Kwanza and he will always have his way in Parliament, but he should be prepared to face the courts, who are also being affected by laws being created by the Kenya Kwanza government," said Andati.

He claimed that a number of policies created by the Kenya Kwanza were being used as avenues to generate money for the regime's cronies.

"We have seen the edible oil scandal. They saw an opportunity and used it to do business instead of helping Kenyans... That's why the prices of commodities such as sugar, cereals and oil have not come down," he claimed.

Kiama contends that the failure to incorporate public views in Bills despite public participation and subverting Parliament's role in a democracy are denying Kenyans good leadership and creating a breeding ground for corruption.

"The 2010 Constitution was to guide the nation on how it should be governed. We should go back to basics. Public participation is a critical solution and requirement, but it has been grossly abused by the current and former parliaments," said Kiama.

Kibagendi said given the significant implications for the economy and the people, government decisions must have input from all stakeholders, including Members of Parliament and the public.

Kibagendi said incidents witnessed during the passage of the Finance Act had ignited debate regarding the balance of power between the Executive and legislative branches of government.

The Executive's apparent dominance, he said, undermines the principles of checks and balances and weakens democratic governance.

Kibagendi said that it was only through concerted efforts and a genuine commitment to transparency and public participation that Kenya can navigate democracy towards a brighter future.