Why Duale may survive Uhuru’s Parliament purge

Thursday, May 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Aden Duale

Following last Tuesday purge of allies of Deputy President in the Senate which saw the Elgeyo Marakwet representative Kipchumba Murkomen and his Nakuru counterpart Susan Kihika rplaced as Leader of Majority and Chief Whip, respectively, talk has been rife that the next stop will be the National Assembly. 

Persons targeted in the National Assembly are Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali, his deputy Cecily Mbarire and Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Kimani Ichung’wa, all who are Ruto’s backers.

It is expected, however, that despite being in the Deputy President’s camp, Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale will survive the purge.

“Duale’s position is clear, he is loyal to the President and defends his government within and without Parliament. I find no reason to axe him,” says Makueni Member of Parliament Dan Maanzo (Wiper).

Asked by People Daily why he thinks the President has faith in him, Duale responded that his performance speaks for itself.

“During my tenure, I have served without discrimination. I command respect across the political divide. I do not antagonise anyone because of his or her political affiliation” said Duale.

The Garissa Township MP says he enjoys cordial relationship with the two Jubilee principals, the President and his deputy.

“I relate well with the two. My work is to see that the government agenda and that of the President are carried out and that I have done so to perfection,” Duale says.

Parliament dead?

While Duale is a close ally of the embattled DP, he has not been openly critical of the President and his government like his former Senate counterpart Murkomen. 

Duale has instead remained focused on fronting the government’s agenda in the House and defending Parliament. 

When Murkomen sensationally claimed last month that Parliament was dead, citing what he termed as undue interference by the Executive, Duale took him on.

 “Well, Senator Kipchumba, please be specific because unless you mean Senate is ‘DEAD’ or ‘DIED ALONG TIME AGO,’ the @NAssemblyKE is alive and doing what it knows best, that is resolving issues of concern of the people of Kenya,” was Duale’s rejoinder on Twitter.

Regional kingpin

The other factor is the Somali and pastoralists equation. Duale is the highest placed political leader from the vast region.

He holds two key positions in the community leadership. Besides being the patron of the Northern Kenya Leaders forum, he is the chairman of the North Eastern Parliamentary Group.

Maanzo says the Somali equation makes it complicated and removing him could trigger political upheaval in the region.

“Duale commands respect in his community and appears to be the political supremo of the region, hence touching him would be sensitive,” Maanzo says.

An MP from North Eastern region who sought anonymity warned that removing Duale from his position in Parliament would be very unpopular in the region.

“Duale is our leader, the only one in top positions of power. He has remained committed and loyal to his job. We see no reason why anyone would want to axe him,” said the MP.

Political analyst Javas Bigambo says that Duale’s regional standing complicates matters and kicking him out would require more tactics to appease the region.

“Duale has been hoisted as the top leader representing the pastoralists. He is vocal in and outside his region and if the President habours any plan to axe him, he would require an equally strong person to replace him, otherwise the issue of marginalisation would arise,” says Bigambo.

Another factor that could make it difficult to kick out Duale is the fact that the position of Leader of Majority is anchored in the Constitution, unlike that of the Senate which is a creation of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).

ODM ticket

Article 108 of the Constitution states (1) There shall be a leader of the majority party and a leader of the minority party.

(2) 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.

Duale first joined Parliament in the 2007 election on an ODM ticket and later decamped with Ruto to the United Republican Party (URP), where he became a vocal defender of the party leader.

And when URP joined Uhuru’s The National Alliance (TNA) to form  the Jubilee Alliance, he became a strong defender of the party and its leadership both within and without Parliament.

Although he avoids crossing Uhuru’s line, the Garissa Township MP often courts controversy.

For example, in the wake of the Garissa University terror attack in April 2015, he pledged to release a list of Al-Shabaab financiers in Kenya. The fiery lawmaker did not, however, make good is promise.

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