Kenya Kwanza MPs Defy President's Orders

President William Ruto was disobeyed by Kenya Kwanza MPs last night when they chose to reject two of his top picks for the five party-backed candidates for the regional assembly, even though Azimio leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka won with significant margins.

Kenya Kwanza chose Hassan Omar, a former Mombasa senator, former MP David Sankok, former Nandi woman representative Zipporah Kering, former senator Falhadha Iman Dekow, and former URP secretary-general Fred Muteti as their preferred lineup in a meeting presided over by President Ruto on Wednesday in State House.

 Mt. Kenya MPs felt that at least one of their own deserved a place in the regional parliament and were unhappy with the final five candidates chosen at State House.

The President publicly endorsing the five, according to some MPs in the Kenya Kwanza camp, was also inappropriate since it upset the coalition.

“Within the coalition, they should have known the favourite candidate; endorsing the five in public meant others felt unwanted,” said an MP who asked to remain anonymous so as to freely discuss the matter.

Following the polling, Mr. Omar, Ms. Kering, Mr. Sankok, Mwangi Maina, and former Igembe Central MP Cyprian Kubai Iringo were declared the winners.

Even though Mr. Iringo received more votes than Ms. Dekow, he was eliminated from the list owing to the gender criterion, and the ex-nominated senator ended up filling the final of Kenya Kwanza's five open seats.

The majority leader of the National Assembly, Kimani Ichung'wa, acknowledged the differences within the Kenya Kwanza camp last night but avoided going into specifics.

“Like every election, it comes with divisions. This was no different. But we want to move on and ask all the nine Eala representatives to give us the best in Arusha and help us get the best laws,” said Mr Ichung’wa.

Junet Mohamed, the minority whip in the National Assembly, described Mr. Maina's election yesterday as “one that makes him a hero.”

“Mwangi Maina is a hero in this election. He was rejected in this election by his party; that he was not worthy of an Eala nomination. This is a young man at 28 who deserves all the chances,” Mr Junet said, to which Mr Ichung’wa protested, saying Mr Maina had not been rejected and had been rightly elected.

Kennedy Kalonzo, the son of Mr. Musyoka, Winnie, the daughter of Mr. Odinga, Kanini Kega, a former Kieni MP, and Suleiman Shahbal, a politician from Mombasa, were elected for the Azimio side.

According to reports, several Central MPs thought that the Kenya Kwanza camp had given them the short end of the stick and that Mr. Iringo and Mr. Maina should have been rewarded.  The parliamentarians joined forces with their Azimio counterparts in an unexpected coalition of expediency to change the State House list at the ballot by also voting for Mr. Kega in order to forward their agenda.

Azimio felt that by voting for Mr. Iringo and Mr. Maina, they would have a stronger chance to upset the Kenya Kwanza camp.

As Azimio, the Pokot South MP David Pkosing expressed satisfaction with the outcome and confirmed voting against the President's slate.

The fact that the voting was a secret ballot meant that the President would not be able to determine which Kenya Kwanza MPs had defied him. This gave the defiant MPs encouragement.

The same 15 candidates should not still be on the ballot, according to numerous individuals. If Kenya Kwanza had approved the State House line-up, then this was wrong.

“The 10 candidates who were dropped at State House should have officially withdrawn from the race and the speaker make that official communication on the floor of the House. Leaving them on the ballot meant that they could be voted for by any member,” said an MP.


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