Fresh push to pass coalition Bill

Parliament reconvenes next week in fresh push to pass coalition Bill. The Bill will anchor Raila Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja as a coalition party.

MPs will next week troop back to the House in yet another attempt by the handshake team to push through the Political Parties (Amendments) Bill, 2021.

Newszetu has established both the offices of the majority and minority leaders have engaged with Speaker’s office to have the sitting on Wednesday.

The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Kangema MP Muturi Kigano is expected to sit on Tuesday next week to harmonise amendments proposed on the contentious Bill and file report.

Fireworks are expected during next week’s sitting after Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi adjourned the House on Wednesday sparking off protest from pro-handshake MPs.

Sources intimated to Newszetu that allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM boss Raila Odinga have gone flat out to whip their members to attend the special sitting in their numbers.

The Bill is believed will anchor Azimio La Umoja as a coalition party.

The Bill that sailed through the Second Reading on Wednesday had compelled parties and individuals seeking to form a coalition to deposit their agreements six months before elections.

In the case of 2022, parties would be required to form a coalition party by February next year, a move seen as favouring Azimio Movement launched by Raila early this month.

National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya told the Star there are plans to reconvene the House either Wednesday or Thursday to conclude processing of the bill.

“We will have another one (special sitting) soon, December 29 is one of the possibilities but we will give a date when we finalise completely with a gazette notice,” Kimunya said on phone.

“One day should be enough, once amendments are harmonised we should be able to conclude within one day and the temperatures would have gone down.”

Minority Leader John Mbadi said he has already written to the Speaker requesting for a Wednesday sitting to conclude debate on the Bill.

“We have a special sitting next week on December 29, we have already indulged the Speaker. The Standing Orders allow Kimunya or myself to ask the Speaker to gazette a special sitting,” Mbadi said.

However, well-placed sources intimated to Newszetu that members would be invited for a special sitting on December 30 to consider the Bill at its final stage— Third Reading.

On Wednesday, tension ran high after Cheboi invoked Standing Order 131 to adjourn the House and allow the Kigano-led committee to harmonise the amendments and report back to the House.

There was uproar that the move was unprocedural and a violation of the House’s Standing Orders.

At one point, Newszetu has learnt, nominated MP Maina Kamanda almost went into a fist-fight with Kimunya on the floor of the House.

Kamanda was reportedly angry with Kimunya for supporting Cheboi’s move to adjourn the afternoon sitting and delay the debate on the crucial bill.

Contacted, Kimunya admitted that Kamanda confronted him but clarified that he did not respond.

The Kipipiri lawmaker said legislators should be ready to engage in intellectual debate rather than going physical.

“It was not a serious confrontation because I did not confront him. I think people were highly charged in the House, there were a lot of emotions because people were thinking of it more of a contest between two sides rather than the conclusion of the  bill,” Kimunya said.

“Grandstanding between two have never produced any good law. The fights should be intellectual debates not might.”

Cheboi’s ruling that deferred the debate was interpreted as a win for Deputy President William Ruto’s allied MPs who were all along seeking to stop debate on the Bill, which they termed as unconstitutional.

“Honourable members the committee of the whole House stage on the Political Parties Bill is automatically differed to allow harmonisation of the multiple amendments proposed to the Bill,” Cheboi ruled.

Nadaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni accused Cheboi of siding with Tangatanga brigade claiming the ruling was prepared days before the special sitting.

Kioni, who chairs the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee, said Tangatanga has infiltrated even the parliamentary staff who were used to come up with the Wednesday ruling.

“The ruling that was made by the Speaker was typed a day before. This is something that has been conversed before and agreed that we were going to be fooled and we have actually been fooled,” Kioni said.

He added, “It is unfortunate that we have members of staff that are aligned to a wing and they have done that to Tangatanga.”

Mbadi said Cheboi’s ruling was suspicious explaining that the Speaker has no right to single handedly alter the calendar of Parliament.

“It was curious, a sitting should not be called off before the sitting starts. I have never heard where the Speaker rules that tomorrow we will not have a sitting. Do they have the powers?” Mbadi posed.

The ODM chairman said he was not consulted before the Speaker made the ruling to adjourn the sitting.

“The moment you gazette the sitting it becomes the property of the House, Speaker can’t have right to call off the sitting even before we arrive at that sitting. You can’t anticipate that you will not have a business in a sitting,” added the Suba South MP.

Kimunya, however, insisted that Cheboi acted within the law when he adjourned the House to allow for harmonisation of the amendments.

“We have done the same on several bills to avoid acrimony in the committee of the whole house. We had anticipated that,” Kimunya said.

He explained that ignoring the amendments and proceeding with the debate would have infringed on the constitutional rights of MPs who moved the amendments.

“People who are arguing (against adjournment) do not know how Parliament works, the right to representation and legislation are constitutional, you cannot deny any member right to move amendments,” Kimunya said.

“Some people thought we denied them the opportunity to finish the bill although technically I am not sure if we would have been finished with 60 amendments and 60 possible divisions.”

Aden Duale (Garissa Township), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Ayub Savula (Lugari), Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu), Caleb Kositany (Soy), and Daniel Tuitoek (Mogotio) were among legislators who sought to amend the ‘offending’ timeline.

Others were Alice Wahome (Kandara), Godffrey Osotsi (Nominated), Owen Baya (Kilifi North) and Silvanus Osoro (South Mugirango).

“That Clause 8 of the Bill be amended in paragraph (b) by deleting the words “six months” appearing immediately after the words “at least” and substituting, therefore, the words “sixty days,”Barasa proposed.

Duale sought that the period be extended to 90 days, pointing to the cautionary steps Ruto’s side is taking as they craft a team to counter the Raila team.

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