Economy

Ruto faces tough battle to push agenda in Parliament

parliament

Lawmakers at Parliament Buildings. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

The new President faces a tough task pushing his legislative agenda after none of the two political parties won a clear majority in Parliament.

The Kenya Kwanza coalition headed by Deputy President William Ruto has 159 lawmakers in the National Assembly while Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has 162.

Elections were postponed in four constituencies.

At the Senate, Azimio and Kenya Kwanza had 23 and 24 members respectively. The balance of power in Parliament may shift when nominated MPs and senators are picked based on individual party strength.

It is also common for the governing party or coalition to raid opposition ranks in Parliament for support.

The new President will require a clear majority to pass crucial Bills, approve nominees to the Cabinet, Principal Secretaries, ambassadors and high commissioners.

Things will even be tough for the President in ensuring the election of Speakers of both Houses of Parliament which require one to get a two-thirds majority (233) of the 349 MPs.

This will force the President to rely heavily on the support of the 12 MPs who were elected on independent tickets and friendlier MPs in the opposition to push his agenda.

Unlike in the outgoing Parliament where Jubilee Party had 172 MPs, the two leading political formations, the Azimio-One Kenya and the Kenya Kwanza, have a difference of three MPs.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee had its strength in the House increased to 200 after entering into a working arrangement with 10 MPs elected under Kanu ticket, Economic Freedom Party (five), Party for Development and Reform (four), Maendeleo Chap (four), Kenya National Congress (two), and PNU (one).

Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which formed the Minority in Parliament had 73, Wiper 23, ANC 14, Ford-Kenya 13, Chama Cha Mashinani two, and Chama Cha Uzalendo one.

There were 14 independent MPs in the 12th Parliament while the other small parties had one each.

Despite Jubilee having majority MPs in Parliament, the fallout between Dr Ruto and President Kenyatta saw the party disintegrate.

Jubilee MPs allied to Dr Ruto opposed majority of government agenda in the House.

There are 349 MPs in the National Assembly and 67 Senators.

The President also appoints principal secretaries who are also vetted by the National Assembly before taking office.

The new President will also require the support of Independent MPs to guard against motions of impeachment of Cabinet Secretaries, PSs and governors elected under the party ticket.

The Constitution requires that whenever a new House is elected, the President, by notice in the gazette, appoints the place and date for the first sitting of the new House, which shall be not more than 30 days after the election.

Once the House is convened, the 349 MPs will elect a new Speaker who will be sworn in by the Clerk of the National Assembly. Once the Speaker takes an oath, he or she will embark on swearing in each MP at a time.

The National Assembly Standing Orders stipulate that a person shall not be elected as Speaker unless supported in a ballot by the votes of two-thirds of all MPs.

This means that each coalition will require 233 of the 349-member House, comprising 290 directly elected constituency representatives, 47 elected woman county representatives and 12 members nominated to represent special interests.

“If no candidate is supported by the votes of two-thirds of all Members, the candidate or candidates who received the highest number of votes in the ballot referred to in paragraph (1) and the candidate or candidates who in that ballot received the next highest number of votes shall alone stand for election in a further ballot and the candidate who receives the highest number of votes in the further ballot shall be elected Speaker,” the Standing Orders state.

Independent candidates elected include Rahim Dawood (Imenti North), Ronald Karauri (Kasarani), Elija Njoroge (Gatundu North), Shakeel Shabir (Kisumu East), Timothy Toroitich (Marakwet West) and Joshua Mwalyo (Masinga).

Others are Nebert Muruiki (Mbeere South), Geofrey Malanya (Nambale), Kitilai Ntutu (Narok South), Fatuma Mohamed (Migori), Caroline Ngelechei (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Monika Muthoni (Lamu).

The number of independent candidates elected in the August 9 General Election dropped by two compared to 14 in the last Parliament.

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