Duale on the chopping board as purge escalates
Hillary Mageka @ hillarymageka
The brutal purge on Deputy President William Ruto’s lieutenants from key positions in Parliament escalated yesterday after it emerged that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s fixers have identified a possible replacement for National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale.
Duale, previously thought to be safe, is now clutching at straws in the ongoing horse-trading between the parties seeking to shore up the President’s numbers in the conduct of parliamentary business.
The People Daily has established that Kieni MP Kanini Kega and his Kipipiri counterpart Amos Kimunya, are being touted as possible Duale successors, with former being seen as the frontrunner.
The decision was arrived at yesterday after a stormy meeting attended by Jubilee Party officials and the President’s close associates, where it was decided that Duale, who is in the Deputy President’s camp, must exit alongside Majority Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali and his deputy, Nominated MP Cecilly Mbarire.
When contacted yesterday, Kega declined to confirm or deny that he had been approached to replace Duale but acknowledged that his name was being fronted. “I have also heard those claims. If given the opportunity, I will be more than willing to serve because I have the capacity,” said the MP.
He, however, said that it was the President’s prerogative to decide who occupies what position and at what time in the Jubilee Party.
“I have served before in various capacities and given the opportunity, I am more than willing to serve as National Assembly Majority Leader,” he added, insisting that he’s got what it takes to serve in that capacity.
Kega, 47, a second term legislator, belongs to Kieleweke faction that fashions itself as fierce defenders of the President and are said to have the Head of State’s trust and confidence.
Other outspoken members of the group include MPs Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town), Maina Kamanda (Nominated), Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri), Paul Koinange (Kiambaa), and Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi, among others.
Kimunya yesterday said it will be premature to discuss the outcome of the inevitable changes in the House leadership. “I don’t want to comment on speculation. Let’s wait for the eventuality that there will be a reshuffle in the House leadership,” he said.
The move to kick out Duale and Washiali, who is likely to be replaced by Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe, comes just a week after Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Nakuru counterpart Susan Kihika were ousted as Majority Leader and Whip, respectively.
Wangwe, who eased his way out of Jubilee Party’s Tanga Tanga faction early in the year, is the National Assembly’s deputy chair for the Agriculture committee.
Duale did not respond to our calls but in a recent interview with People Daily, he expressed confidence that he will not be removed from his post. “I relate well with the two. My work is to see that government interests and those of the President are carried and that I have done with perfection,” Duale said.
He said he has been instrumental in defending the President’s agenda in Parliament.
“I have during my tenure worked without discriminating, I command respect across the political divide, the majority and the minority sides, I do not antagonize anyone because of his or her political affiliation,” said Duale.
But in a move that is expected to appease the Somali and pastoralists constituency, the party has settled on Ijara MP Sophia Abdi as deputy Majority Whip in place of Mbarire.
Considering the President is keen to get rid of Duale, Washiali and Mbarire, deputy Majority Leader Jimmy Angwenyi is likely to play a key role in communicating party resolutions to Speaker Justin Muturi.
Like in the Senate, where Speaker Kenneth Lusaka easily approved the ouster despite spirited protests from DP Ruto’s camp, Muturi, a key ally of the President, is expected to easily execute the assignment.
National Assembly standing order 19 (3) says that a Majority Leader may be removed by a majority of votes of all members of the largest party or coalition of parties in the National Assembly.
It further says, the Whip of the largest party or coalition of parties in the National Assembly shall forthwith, upon a decision being made under this Standing Order, communicate to the Speaker, in writing, the decision together with the minutes of the meeting at which the decision was made.
Current Majority Whip Washiali, the Mumias East MP, and his deputy Mbarire, who are supposed to communicate Duale’s ouster decision to the Speaker alongside the minutes of the meeting at which the decision was made, are both on the chopping board.
The fact that the position of National Assembly Leader of Majority is anchored in the Constitution, unlike that of the Senate, which is a creation of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), further complicates the matrix for the President’s team.
Meanwhile, five nominated Senators allied to Ruto will appear before Jubilee Party’s disciplinary committee today.
Nominated senators Millicent Omanga, Iman Dekow and Victor Prengei face expulsion while Waqo Jillo and Mary Seneta could be pardoned after they explained their absence and pledged loyalty to the party and its leadership.