Murkomen, Kihika, Washiali face ouster from House posts
After the exit of Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri from government, the onslaught on Deputy President William Ruto is set to turn to Parliament where his allies occupy key positions.
Multiple sources told People Daily that Jubilee MPs allied to the President are plotting the removal of Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, his Whip Susan Kihika and National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali.
Though an ardent supporter of the DP, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale is said to have been spared in a planned purge for what is seen as his loyalty to the President.
We also established that Murkomen would likely be replaced by Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi, while his Murang’a counterpart Irungu Kang’ata, currently the Deputy Whip, will replace Kihika.
In the proposed new line-up, Bomet Senator Christopher Lang’at, who is perceived as a moderate, will be appointed Deputy Whip.
In the National Assembly, Washiali is likely to lose his seat to Navakholo MP Emanuel Wangwe, the vice-chair of the Agriculture committee.
“This essentially will cripple their political activities because they will be denied the trappings of power and resources that come with th positions,” said a source familiar with the plot.
MPs close to President Uhuru Kenyatta, notably, Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri), Paul Koinange (Kiambaa), Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town) and Muturi Kigano of Kangema, are said to be at the centre of the planned changes.
The MPs accuse the three parliamentary leaders of failing to prosecute Uhuru’s agenda and opposing the Building Bridges Initiative.
Kiunjuri was on Tuesday kicked out of Cabinet following what was seen as support for the DP’s political activities which are seen to undermine the President.
“Any Jubilee MP who occupies a leadership position in either Senate or National Assembly is on notice. If you are not aligned with the President’s agenda; if you don’t agree with the fight against corruption or support the BBI; pack and leave before February,” said Wambugu, who confirmed plans to kick out Jubilee MPs opposed to the President including those chairing House committees.
“Kiunjuri left Cabinet. You will leave the carpeted office and join the rest of us ordinary Members of the House,” he warned.
Changes in the House leadership positions was among matters that came up yesterday when Uhuru met 14 county governors from the Mt Kenya region.
The governors are said to have raised concern with the President that his Big Four agenda was being frustrated by the Jubilee leadership in the House.
The governors included Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia) and Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri).
At a meeting with Kikuyu elders in Nakuru on Tuesday, the President was reportedly told to crack the whip on renegade leaders in the National Assembly and the Senate to secure his legacy.
Asked about the impending changes in Parliament, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot said it will not be easy to replace the leaders: “We have solid numbers in both Houses,” he said without elaborating.
The House leaders enjoy at least two cars all fuelled, serviced and maintained by the Parliamentary Service Commission, offices with up to five members of staff, as well as enhanced security.
Like Duale, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Fatuma Dulo will be spared for her support for the President.
Murkomen, Kihika and Washiali have been dismissive of the President’s March 9, 2018, Handshake with Opposition chief Raila Odinga that yielded the BBI project which seeks to unite Kenyans.
As a sign of her dwindling political fortunes, Kihika was on Tuesday locked out of a meeting attended by the President in her home county while police cancelled a rally convened by a group of Luhya politicians led by Washiali in Mumias to oppose a pro-BBI conference at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega tomorrow.
Yesterday, Washiali, the Mumias East MP, said he was not aware of the plan to oust him, but was ready for anything.
“I am not aware. But if they want to remove us from our positions, they can go ahead and do so,” he said.
Washiali, who is among the DP’s pointmen in the former Western Province, said the move would require a resolution of the Jubilee Party top organ which will be transmitted to the Speaker through the secretary-general.
“We don’t know which party organ they will use to remove us,” said Washiali, suggesting that pro-Ruto politicians dominated key party caucuses.
The National Super Alliance used a similar tactic to replace then Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula with Siaya Senator James Orengo.
Kihika yesterday vowed to continue with her pro-Ruto and anti-BBI rhetoric. “I am keeping the covenant, my word is my bond, kumi kumi (Ten plus Ten) liwe liwalo (come what may),” she tweeted.
This was in reference to the much-touted deal for Uhuru to support Ruto succeed him when he retires in 2022.
Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri accused the President of keeping quiet as some government officials harass the DP.
“It is shocking that the President is watching as his deputy is being embarrassed. Presidential appointees cannibalising Ruto should know that tables turn. They are not elected and they won’t last in those positions,” said the Bahati MP.
But his Nyeri Town counterpart Wambugu maintained that the DP had no option but to toe the line.
“Ruto has been running rogue and defying the President. If he doesn’t change, he will be a non-issue in Kenyan politics by December,” said Wambugu.
Soi MP Caleb Kositany, an ally of Ruto, predicated rough moments for the DP and his supporters as Uhuru’s succession battle takes shape.
Kositany claimed that State machinery had been activated to frustrate the DP’s presidential campaign.
“Those who opposed are now a darling of some members of Jubilee while diehard members who gave Jubilee victory are now seen as enemies,” he said.