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Ahead of his inauguration, Ruto sews up parliament

The new president's coalition takes the speaker posts in both houses and courts Musyoka, who controls the Kamba vote

After his inauguration on 13 September, President William Ruto starts his first term with clear control of both houses of parliament and a good chance of expanding that majority by co-opting waverers such as the Wiper party's Kalonzo Musyoka.

Ruto's Kenya Kwanza (KK) coalition on Thursday (9 September) made a clean sweep of both the National Assembly and Senate speaker positions in the coalition's first show of strength in both chambers. And he delivered on his pre-election promises to two of the key defectors to his camp (AC Vol 63 No 18, Pricing Ruto's promises).

Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula clinched the National Assembly Speaker seat after his rival for the post, Azimio La Umoja's Kenneth Marende, reading that the numbers were against him, chose not to stand in the second round of voting.

MPs affiliated to defeated presidential candidate Raila Odinga and the Azimio coalition tried to block Wetangula's candidacy by citing allegations of corruption during his tenure as foreign minister and a procedural claim that he had not lawfully resigned as Bungoma Senator.

But these were rejected by National Assembly clerk Serah Kioko. Woman Representative for Uasin Gishu, Gladys Boss, also of KK, was elected National Assembly Deputy Speaker.

In the Senate, meanwhile, a walk-out and boycott by Azimio-allied senators shortly before the voting for Speaker began, as well as Musyoka's withdrawal from the race at the last minute ensured that former Kilifi County governor Amason Kingi, who defected from Odinga's camp to KK earlier this year, won on the first ballot (AC Vol 58 No 25, Separatists on the march).

Again, with the numbers against them, Azimio attempted to claim that the defection to KK of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), which holds two Senate seats and five National Assembly members, is illegal under the terms of their coalition agreement with Odinga, and that Kingi still faces allegations of corruption.

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang also claimed that the last-minute gazetting of nominated senators was a plot by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to deny their participation in the deputy speaker race, demanding that the sitting be suspended to allow those interested in contesting to submit their papers.

Kingi needed at least 45 votes to win in the first round of voting and obtained 46 out of 67 votes. His deputy will be by Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi, who was elected unopposed.

Musyoka, who had first submitted his candidacy for Speaker of the lower house switched to the speakership of the upper house following Azimio's decision to front former speaker Marende. Kalonzo claims that the decision to withdraw had the endorsement of Odinga.

However, Musyoka's eleventh-hour decision – just hours after indicating his intention to stand for the Senate post during the coalition's parliamentary group meeting at Maasai Lodge - is understood to have enraged Azimio lawmakers. That has prompted speculation, which Musyoka has denied, that KK leaders had asked him to step aside in return for a post in Ruto's government.

For Ruto, co-opting Musyoka, whose Wiper party swept the board in the three Ukambani provinces and has 24 seats in the National Assembly, would be another boost, giving him a convincing parliamentary majority (AC Vol 63 No 17, How the hustlers toppled the dynasties). With Azimio on the back foot and Odinga unable to offer Musyoka a position of any substance, the Wiper leader may well decide to join the winning team.



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