Kenya: Ruto’s coalition wins control of National Assembly and Senate

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Friday, 9 September 2022 15:27

Kenya's President-elect William Ruto speaks after the Supreme Court upheld his win in Nairobi, Kenya September 5, 2022. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

Kenya’s President-elect William Ruto got a boost on Thursday after his Kenya Kwanza coalition won the position of speaker in both the National Assembly and the Senate -- which gives him control of the agenda in parliament.

Ruto’s choice, former Kilifi Governor Amason Jeffah Kingi, won the position of Senate Speaker, after garnering 46 votes out of a possible 66 votes, after his closest competitor former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who had been supported by Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition withdrew from the race.

After the win, the Kingi promised to serve without impartially: “I accept with humility and pledge that I shall perform to my utmost ability, the constitutional responsibilities,” he said in his acceptance speech.

Raila’s camp walks out

Just before the vote, senators from Raila’s camp staged a walkout from the chambers after having accused Ruto’s candidate of corruption while he was Governor, and vowed not to participate in the vote.

“We do not feel the necessity to sanitise a process that is fraught with corruption. It is better to be defeated in honour than to win with fraud,” said Nairobi Senator, Edwin Sifuna.

In the National Assembly, another one of Ruto’s pointmen, former Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula won the position of Speaker of Parliament after beating out another Raila ally, former Speaker Kenneth Marende. Wetangula got 215 votes out of 130 in the first round.

According to the house standing orders one must win two-thirds or 233 votes out of 349 to win in the first round of voting.

Although Wetangula was announced the winner, he failed to reach the maximum number of votes in the first round. But Marende conceded defeat after the first round, thereby giving the role to Wetangula.

Wetangula who is now the third most powerful state officer in Kenya, after the President and his Deputy, has promised to serve with impartiality and defend the constitution.

“ I unequivocally submit myself to the collective will of this house and reiterate my singular desire to serve with impartiality, fidelity to the constitution,” he said.

Ruto’s control of both Houses

With a win in the National Assembly and the Senate, Ruto is confident that his government Agenda will sail through, given both speakers are his allies.

The President-elect says the fact that his coalition won both positions means it is popular across the nation. “I salute Members of Parliament for trusting Kenya Kwanza to provide leadership in both Houses, a clear indication of our national support,” he said.

During the last two weeks, Ruto has persuaded lawmakers from Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya and independents to join his Kenya Kwanza coalition, a move described by political analysts as one that helped him clinch the speaker’s of both Houses.

Ruto’s opponents, however, see this as a plot to weaken the opposition, accusing former allies of Raila as traitors after changing sides. Among the parties that were in Azimio la Umoja but recently joined Kenya Kwanza are Devolution Empowerment Party (DEP), United Democratic Movement, and Movement for Democracy and Growth Party.

A day before the vote, outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila had rallied their coalition lawmakers to ensure they clinched the Speakers’ positions, a move that was also seen as a unity test.

Brian Wanyama, political analyst, says with Ruto’s win in both Houses, he has an opportunity to ensure that his government’s agenda sails smoothly.

“With the win, Kenyans expect that he will now quickly implement his promises,” he says.

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