Ruto, Raila rally troops ahead of Speakers’ vote
President-Elect William Ruto and his adversaries in the just-ended election, outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga yesterday rallied their troops for the next phase of their political showdown - the Speakers’ election set for this afternoon.
Ruto held the Kenya Kwanza parliamentary group meeting which brought together about 180 MPs and dozens of senators, at his residence in Karen, Nairobi.
Uhuru and Raila, on the other hand, hosted the lawmakers elected on the tickets of parties affiliated to the Azimio la Umoja coalition, at a restaurant in Ongata Rongai, Kajiado county where they rallied them to vote for former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka for the positions of National Assembly and Senate speaker respectively.
“Do not accept to be bought for two shillings (to vote for Kenya Kwanza candidates,” Uhuru is said to have warned during the meeting which he chaired.
At the Karen meeting, president-elect Ruto told the MPs, who were boosted by the presence of several independent MPs and defectors from the Azimio la Umoja coalition, to elect Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula for the position of National Assembly Speaker.
Ruto marshalled his troops to vote for Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Shollei for the Deputy Speaker’s position in the National Assembly, stressing the need for the incoming government to gain control of both Houses for the effective passage of government bills.
Ruto is said to have directed the senators from the Kenya Kwanza wing to vote for former Kilifi governor Amason Kingi for the senate speaker’s position, with Meru senator Kathuri Murungi as his deputy.
The MPs are said to have unanimously resolved to support the four during today’s elections.
Resigned as Senator
The meeting was informed that Wetang’ula had already resigned as Bungoma Senator and that he had tendered the letter to the Clerk of the Senate.
A source at the meeting said Ruto told the lawmakers that it was in the interest of the alliance to win the position of the Speaker and the leadership of parliament for the smooth and effective running of the legislature.
Sources said over 180 MPs attended the meeting including seven from the UDM party, eight of the independent MPs and Ugenya legislator David Ochieng of the Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) Party.
“Ruto used the meeting to lobby the MPs to vote as a team and elect their candidate as agreed,” said the source.
The meeting which was also attended by Deputy President-Elect Rigathi Gachagua, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and outgoing Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi and his senate counterpart Kenneth Lusaka, among others, also resolved to hold a retreat next week to plan for other leadership positions.
Also in attendance were some of the governors elected on the Kenya Kwanza ticket.
Those who addressed the gathering included Gachagua, Mudavadi, Wetangula, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa and former majority leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale.
In his speech, Wetangula informed the group that he had tendered his resignation letter to the Clerk of the Senate as stipulated in the Standing Orders.
“I have already fulfilled all constitutional requirements, I seek your vote tomorrow (today) and also promise you that I am ready for the task ahead with my vast experience in matters of legislation,” Wetang’ula told the meeting which lasted three-and-a-half hours.
At the Azimio meeting, Uhuru maintained that even though he would hand over power to Ruto on Tuesday, his leader remains Raila.
Uhuru, who is also the chairman of Azimio council, faulted Kenyans for their choice in the August 9, polls explaining that they denied themselves the opportunity of having a united country.
“I will hand over power smiling because it is my constitutional duty but my leader is Baba, Raila Odinga. Politics is not a matter to keep in your pockets,” said President Kenyatta.
He led the more than 150 lawmakers in endorsing Kalonzo to seek election as the Senate Speaker and Marende to square it out with Wetangula for the Speaker of the National Assembly.
“Kalonzo would have been the best Chief Minister. I believe he would also have been a good representation of our agenda in the Senate,” he said.
The Azimio parliamentary group also settled on Daadab MP Farah Maalim as the coalition’s nominee for the National Assembly Deputy Speaker while Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo as its Senate Deputy Speaker nominee.
After a three-hour meeting, Jubilee Party secretary Jeremiah Kioni and ODM counterpart Edwin Sifuna said they agreed to stick together as the Azimio family, warning that their members should not stoop low to be bought.
Sifuna was categorical that Azimio leaders should stay in Azimio and discharge their mandate, calling out the President-elect not to poach the leaders if he believed in running a government that should be put on check.
“None of us is available for sale. We will do our duty to the people who elected us and gave us votes. If you were elected in Azimio, you are a fraud if you appear to join any other coalition,” said Sifuna.
On his part, Kioni charged that legally they have the numbers, expressing confidence their members will today be guided by their conscience to elect the best team at the Senate and National Assembly.
“We are asking our colleagues from the other coalition to see the quality of the leaders we are fronting for these positions. We hope they will see which crop of people will add value to the two houses,” said Kioni.
At the same time, Narok Senator-Elect Ledama ole Kina charged that those who crossed over to the other side after being elected on Azimio ticket are not fit to be called leaders.
“Parliament is one of the arms of government. So we are all in government. But we shall not abdicate our roles of putting the executive in check. We will ensure that all the Kenya Kwanza promises are fulfilled,” said Ole Kina.
The senator said Kenya Kwanza promised to lower the cost of maize flour from the current Sh230 to Sh70.
National Assembly has 349 members while the senate has 67 senators.
Stories by Anthony Mwangi, Rawlings Otieno and Hillary Mageka