Kenya: Jubilee MPs threaten to quit Azimio for being denied influential committee spot

By Victor Abuso

Posted on Tuesday, 15 November 2022 13:24
Kenyan members of parliament during a session in April 2022. REUTERS

MPs from former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party are threatening to quit the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition Party, accusing August Presidential candidate Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party of violating agreements on how to share parliamentary committee leadership slots.

The falling-out came after the former ruling party’s nominee was locked out of the powerful Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), which was established under Article 127 of the constitution to ensure the smooth functioning of the Houses of Parliament: the Senate and the National Assembly.

The PSC is tasked with providing services and facilities to ensure the effective functioning of parliament, preparing annual estimates of expenditure and submitting them to the National Assembly for approval, and undertaking programmes to promote the ideals of democracy.

According to the Jubilee Party legislatures, the coalition had been allocated three slots to be shared in the committee among the largest three parties under its umbrella. 

Indeed, the three parties – Jubilee, ODM, and Wiper – had initially proposed one nominee each.

But Jubilee’s candidate, Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo, was replaced with ODM party’s Okong’o Omogeni, Nyamira Senator.

Scramble for positions

Consequently, ODM, which holds a parliamentary majority, has taken two positions, leaving one spot for Wiper and none for Jubilee. 

Led by Sabina Chege, who was at the forefront of Odinga’s presidential campaign, the Jubilee lawmakers are now planning to have a meeting to decide the fate of their party in the coalition should the stalemate persist.

“We, the leadership of the Jubilee Party across the political divide, are saddened by this show of impunity,” she says.

Another Jubilee MP, Sarah Korere from Laikipia North constituency, accuses ODM of degrading her party, stressing that it was not coerced to join the coalition and is free to quit.

“We joined willingly and we will leave willingly because we have witnessed political banditry firsthand,” says Korere.

Members can part ways with the Azimio Coalition after three months from the August elections.

Defending decision

ODM Secretary General and Nairobi Senator, Edwin Sifuna, dismissed Jubilee’s threats and defended his party’s decision, saying the motion to replace Dullo was unanimously endorsed.

Sifuna also shrugged off the allegation that ODM is solely controlling the Azimio coalition, saying the dispute can be resolved through discussion. “A debate with our brothers and sisters from Jubilee […] is one I would very much welcome,” he says.

Observers say they are not surprised by the wrangles within the coalition, given that, historically, no political coalition in Kenya has stuck together for long.

“Former President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga should sit and put their house in order,” political analyst Brian Wanyama tells The Africa Report.

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