Why Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Is Likely To Miss Parliament’s Privileges

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President-elect William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance will have to operate for two months as the minority party in the 13th parliament, despite having managed to poach independent and Azimio-affiliated lawmakers.

Unlike President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime, where his government had the support of the majority of parliament, Ruto will have to start his term with a minority side in the House.

Kenya Kwanza – a coalition that includes the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Amani National Congress (ANC), FORD Kenya, Chama Cha Kazi, Democratic Party and The Service Party – now has 160 MPs in the National Assembly; an amount including nominated slots collected by the affiliated parties.

Tiaty MP-elect William Kamket and President-elect William Ruto at the Karen Vice President’s Office on Thursday, September 1, 2022.

William Ruto

On the other hand, Azimio la Umoja has 173 MPs in the NA who give the coalition the advantage as the majority side of the house.

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While the perception is that the winning party takes the majority leader seat, political analyst and lawyer Martin Oloo argues that the majority side does not necessarily mean the party-forming government, but rather the largest party in parliament.

Speaking to TBEN.co.ke, Oloo confirmed that the Kenyan government of Kwanza will have to rely on the minority leader to direct its activities in parliament.

“Majority does not mean that you are in government, it is the party with the majority members. Government affairs in parliament will have to be handled by the minority side,” said Oloo.

This is also enshrined in Article 108 of the Constitution, which states that the leader of the majority is the leader in parliament of the largest party or coalition.

“The leader of the majority party will be the person who is the leader in the National Assembly of the largest party or coalition of parties,” the article reads.

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Despite the fact that the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Maendeleo Chap Chap and Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) signed a post-election agreement with Kenya Kwanza, the law governing the formation of political coalitions states that they can only be recognized as Kenya Kwanza members after three months.

This implies that the new president will operate without a majority leader and whip majority, both of which play an important role in advancing parliament with the legislative agenda.

This would further imply that the Kenyan Kwanza would lose control of the leadership of the House Committees. In particular, the new government will need a friendly house given the task of vetting and approving cabinet candidates awaiting the coalition.

Under Article 152 of the Constitution, cabinet members must be approved by the members of the National Assembly before being given the wink to be sworn in.

According to Oloo, this situation could lead to lobbying and compromise on the part of the government to facilitate a smooth flow of government affairs in parliament.

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“This leaves room for negotiations and compromises between both factions,” Oloo said.

However, Ruto and the Kenya Kwanza Coalition could be given a lifeline in his quest to control the bicameral parliament when the agreements entered into by UDM and other parties initially in Azimio are recognized by the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties.

The 13th Parliament will hold its inaugural meeting on Thursday, September 8 following a publication by President Uhuru.

One of the first items on the agenda of the new members will be to elect a speaker and his deputy, as provided for in the Rules of Procedure.

President-elect William Ruto receives UDM politicians who defected to the Kenya Kwanza alliance at his Karen residence on Thursday, August 18.

President-elect William Ruto receives UDM politicians, who have defected to the Kenyan Kwanza alliance, at his Karen residence on Thursday, August 18, 2022.

William Ruto