Lobbying intensifies in last-minute bid for EALA
Candidates vying as members of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) were yesterday engaged in last-minute lobbying ahead of today’s election.
The 28 nominees who were cleared to contest for the election last week engaged members along the corridors of Parliament, at Members’ lobbies and restaurants urging them to vote for them during today’s exercise.
So intense is the lobbying that some of the candidates went ahead and printed fliers and posters which they gave to the lawmakers in a bid to win their support.
Sources aware of the on goings in Parliament revealed that the candidates were not only talking to members individually but had also engaged members from their regions as well as those in leadership asking them to whip their members to support them during today’s voting.
“All the candidates have camped here, you have seen them here, they are talking to all members and none of them is taking this thing lightly. The parties have also made their decisions and therefore tomorrow we will be here for voting. This is a big exercise,” said a member who did not want to be named.
The lawmakers are today expected to vote for the nine members to sit at the Arusha based assembly
The lobbying came hours after President William Ruto’s United Democratic Movement (UDA) settled on five candidates out of the 15 the party had submitted to the joint secretariat of the National Assembly and Senate while the Azimio la Umoja led by Raila Odinga settled on four candidates out of the 12 that the party had submitted to the house.
The UDA lawmakers during a Parliamentary Group meeting chaired by Ruto voted for former Mombasa gubernatorial aspirant Hassan Omar, former Nominated MP David Sankok (Narok), former Nominated Senator Falhada Dekow, former United Republican Party (URP) Secretary General Frederick Muteti and former Nandi Women Representative Zipporah Kering in an exercise that was done through the secret ballot.
It was understood that the Azimio side settled for Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s son Kennedy Musyoka, Raila Odinga’s daughter Winnie Odinga and Mombasa businessman Mohammed Shahbal.
However the Jubilee party which is part of the Azimio coalition was yet to agree on who among its nominees who comprises Jubilee secretary General Jeremiah Kioni, former Kieni lawmaker Kanini Kega, and former Wajir Women Fatuma Gedi will be. However, sources said the contest is between Gedi and Kega.
Others eyeing the regional body from the Azimio side include former MPs Kizito Mugali, Timothy Bosire and Mohammed Diriye as well as Winfred Mutua Hellen Ndeti, and Beatrice Askul.
But despite the coalition settling on the four, it was understood that the lawmakers from the Luhya community were pushing for Kizito’s election on grounds that the region has not benefited like the rest of the country which have been allocated slots not only in committees but also in the powerful Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).
Speaking yesterday, Kega who said if elected he would be vying as Budget chair in the assembly as he has the skills and knowledge to do due to his background as budget and appropriation committee chairperson in the 13th parliament.
“Having been the chair of the Trade committee I believe I have the right background to push for the interest of Kenya in the assembly. I believe I have proper legislation that would be favourable to our country as well as push for stronger relationships between partner states,” he said. Shahbal said by him being elected he would make EALA more proactive adding that he would also push for the interest of Kenya.
“I am uniquely qualified for this position. I have a relationship In all the East African countries and this gives me an upper hand to vie for this position,” he said.
Kering, who thanked the UDA MPs for settling on her, said she will be pushing for the interest of the county once elected as a member of the Arusha based assembly.
“I want to thank God that I am a nominee of Kenya Kwanza and will be vetted by MPs tomorrow. I will push for the interest of Kenya,” she said.
Yesterday the Clerk of the National Assembly Samuel Njoroge and his senate counterpart Jeremiah Nyegenye gazetted today as the day when the election will be held.
“Pursuant to Rule 15(1) of the East African Legislative Assembly elections Rules 2017, we the presiding officers appoint Thursday 17th November 2022 as the election date. The elections shall be held at 10.00 am in the National Assembly chambers and at 9am in the senate chamber respectively,” reads the gazette notice. Today’s exercise comes at a time when the lifeline of the current EALA membership is expected to come to an end by December 20 to allow the nine Legislators to report to Arusha, the seat of the regional legislature.
Already, all the member partners save for Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo have elected their representatives to the regional assembly. EALA membership currently stands at 62, with nine elected members from each of the six East Africa Community (EAC) partner’s states — Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi — and eight ex-officio members.