Kenya Kwanza, Azimio pick leaders for Speaker posts

Behind-the-scenes lobbying has intensified as newly elected lawmakers jostle for plum leadership positions amid a fierce battle for numbers in the race for National Assembly and Senate Speakers positions.

Bungoma senator-elect Moses Wetang’ula and outgoing Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi are being fronted as candidates for the National Assembly and Senate speakers, respectively, by Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei is also being backed for the Senate Deputy Speaker.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen has been listed as a front runner for the Senate Majority Leader position – a seat he held for three years in the last Parliament – with Laikipia Senator John Kinyua being fronted for Senate Majority Whip.

MPs in President-elect William Ruto’s camp are also said to be behind Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa as National Assembly’s Majority Leader while South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro or Vihiga Woman Rep Beatrice Adagala are being fronted to take up the Majority Whip position.

Some MPs in the camp are, however, lobbying for Garissa Township lawmaker Aden Duale to take up the slot.

Mr Duale served in the position for eight years before he was dramatically kicked out at the height of Dr Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta‘s fallout.

“Kimani Ichungwa is Kenya Kwanza Alliance presumptive National Assembly Majority Leader,” said a senior member of the alliance.

Kalonzo, Marende fronted

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition, on the hand, has settled on Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka for the National Assembly seat and former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende for the Senate job in a contest that will be won by numbers on the floor of the two Houses.

ODM chairman John Mbadi is being fronted to take up the Majority/Minority Leader slot.

Mr Mbadi is among four individuals set to benefit from ODM’s nomination slots. Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi is also said to be a front runner for the position.

Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe, Kakamega Woman representative Elsie Muhanda and Sabina Chege (set to be nominated) are said to be angling for Majority/Minority Whip.

Kenya Kwanza has, however, insisted that they form the majority in both the Houses owing to their numbers.

In the Senate, Kenya Kwanza commands a slim 24 – 22 majority, making the alliance an outright majority coalition.

Busia Senate seat was won by human rights activist Okiya Omtatah on the National Reconstruction Alliance (NRA) party, which did not sign a coalition pact with either of the main formations.

Numbers game

In the National Assembly, the alliance politically has a slim majority at 161 against Azimio’s 159.

PAA has three members in the National Assembly while MCC has two seats, handing Azimio additional five members, therefore a slim 164 – 156 majority.

Factoring in the 12 nomination slots does not make a difference since United Democratic Alliance (UDA) will take up 6 slots, ODM four while Jubilee and Wiper will take one each. This means six each for Kenya Kwanza and Azimio.

United Democratic Movement (UDA) of Mandera Senator-elect Ali Roba, which has six MPs in the National Assembly and two senators, has also switched camps.

But its numbers will still benefit Azimio when deciding on majority and minority coalitions.

Election of speakers

The numbers will, however, be crucial in the election of Speakers.

“The coalition agreements are still in place. The bottom line is that we have 164 MPs and they have 156 members. In the Speakers’ race, even the individual candidates will be lobbying across the political divide,” said Mr Mbadi.

“Ruto is just playing mind games, probably preparing for a runoff but that does not change our position. We will claim our majority status, let them (Kenya Kwanza) contend with the minority status,” Mr Mbadi told Newszetu.

Already, Mr Wetang’ula has expressed confidence that they have the numbers to guarantee a win in the Speaker’s election.

“I am going to be the third in command of the country. I pray to God that he gives me the wisdom to lead the National Assembly and coordinate well with the Senate,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

“We have the numbers, so people should not be worried. Leaders from the Northern part of Kenya and some independents have joined us and we will see to it that this country goes in the right direction,” he said.

Outgoing Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua said the alliance has agreed to first focus on the election of the two Speakers.

Dr Mutua said they now have an overwhelming majority after independents and some Azimio members joined them.

“What we have agreed to deal with the election is the House Speakers before we can have a discussion on the other leadership positions. We have agreed to front Senator Wetang’ula for the National Assembly and Mr Kingi for the Senate,” said Dr Mutua.

“We have the numbers to win the two positions. It is interesting that Azimio is counting people who have since left them. They are forcing people to be in their camp,” he said in reference to his party still being considered part of Azimio.

Article 108 of the constitution stated that “There shall be a leader of the majority party and a leader of the minority party. The leader of the majority party shall be the person who is the leader in the National Assembly of the largest party or coalition of parties.”

“The leader of the minority party shall be the person who is the leader in the National Assembly of the second largest party or coalition of parties,” further reads the law.

Newszetu has reliably learnt that a section of the Azimio coalition members held a meeting in Nairobi Upper Hill on Friday strategising on how to woo back some of their members that have crossed to Kenya Kwanza.

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