Anger over EALA nominations prompts rare Jubilee, NASA unity in Parliament
Jubilee and Opposition legislators for the first time closed ranks to curtail what they termed as domination by lawmakers from northeastern Kenya in Parliament.
In a surprise move viewed as defiance of last week’s Jubilee Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, and the subsequent election of three MPs from the northeastern region to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), the rare unity saw candidates proposed for various seats defeated.
And in a swift rejoinder, the President’s party, through Majority Whip Ben Washiali, de-whipped MPs Kangogo Bowen (Marakwet East), Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), and Alex Kosgei (Emgwen) for going against the decision.
Keter whitewashed State House-proposed favourite Ali Wario (Bura) to win the Labour Committee chairman’s position while Bowen floored Sophia Ali (Ijara) for the Environment Committee vice chairperson’s post.
Kosgei, who lost to Kieni MP Kanini Kega for the Trade Committee chair, was not spared the wrath of the Jubilee leadership.
Silas Tiren (Moiben), who was also voted as the chairman for the Agriculture Committee, was however not disciplined after he defeated Aden Ali (Mandera East).
In what was seen as a departure from the past, MPs from both sides of the political divide lauded their newfound unity, which they said was taken to correct what they saw as an injustice where three out of nine Eala MPs came from the northeastern region.
“Things do change,” shouted Muhoroni MP James Onyango K’Oyoo after the Labour Committee took a vote.
Three women legislators from central Kenya were also heard plotting how to lock out their colleagues from northeastern, saying they must assert their authority.
“We must change our strategy to ensure we get regional representation in these elections. We have the numbers but we keep losing,” said a vocal MP, who was also elected in the contest.
The revolt in Jubilee prompted the Deputy President to intervene and read the MPs the riot act, urging them to resign.
“As per the Standing Order 176(2), I hereby discharge the member in reference from the Committee of Environment and Natural Resources. The leadership of Jubilee in Parliament has given the member adequate opportunity as the SO and we are convinced that he is not willing to cooperate with the party position,” reads Washilai’s letter on Bowen to Speaker Justin Muturi, copied to clerk Michael Sialai and Majority Leader Aden Duale.
A similar letter was written to Keter and Kosgei.
Bowen immediately responded through a press conference, vowing to stay put as it was the decision of the members to elect him.
“I do not understand the reason I have been de-whipped. I will not step down for anybody even if they de-whip me,” he said.
He claimed that the DP and Duale had called him to register their displeasure. Keter said he had also received distress calls from the party leadership and maintained that he was rightfully elected