Kenya: Waititu to Face Full Senate House in Fight for Survival After Impeachment

22 January 2020

Nairobi — Besieged Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu will now face the whole Senate after 28 Senators voted to shoot down a motion tabled by Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen for the establishment of an 11-member Special Committee to handle his proposed impeachment.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka was set to gazette a fresh date when the plenary proceedings will be conducted following the rejection of the motion.

The motion was moved on Tuesday by the Majority Leader and seconded by Minority Leader James Orengo, but was heavily defeated when it was subjected to a vote after a section of Jubilee MPs including Majority Deputy Whip Irungu Kang'ata (Murang'a), Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Samuel Poghisio and Farhiya Ali (Nominated) accused Murkomen of not consulting in drafting the list.

Kang'ata pointed to the glaring omission of a Senator from Central Kenya region in the Committee, saying that it was unfair to leave out someone who understood the region's political landscape.

"We believe the more Senators dealing with this matter the better," Kang'ata said.

Ali and Poghisio opposed the establishment of the select committee saying Murkomen had left out the Kieleweke faction of the Jubilee Party and ensured that all six nominees from the ruling party were those who are known to leaning towards the Tanga-Tanga wing which is supportive of Deputy President William Ruto, to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta when his term ends in 2022.

"Objectivity and confidence to the committee is important. Some of us are not happy with this list," Ali protested.

Sakaja alongside Nominated Senators Isaac Mwaura and Abshiro Halake supported the plenary following fears that a smaller team may be compromised in order to come up with recommendations favouring one side.

"Let us have 24 delegations determine the matter as opposed to the Committee whose verdict will only be determined by six members," Sakaja argued.

"Senate cannot be used to sanitize governors, pre-empting the outcome of the impeachment by this committee and therefore stealing the outcome. We cannot have a situation where Jubilee failed to consult on the list," Mwaura said.

16 Senators supported it while 23 were absent.

The Senate was forced to take a 10-minute adjournment in order to allow for consultations which Murkomen said would allow the House to build consensus on the list and move together.

But when the House resumed, Murkomen told the Speaker that there was no deal, and asked for a vote to determine the matter.

Attempts by Orengo, Irungu and Moses Wetangula (Bungoma) to convince Murkomen to withdraw the list and have the Senate Plenary handle the matter fell on deaf ears as the Elgeyo Marakwet Senator remained adamant.

"Let us adjourn debate for ten minutes so that we agree on the list. Let us not proceed as a divided House. I am persuaded by the views expressed by members," Orengo said as he appealed to his Majority counterpart to soften his stand.

"Withdraw the Motion because it will leave us with egg on our face," he pleaded with a defiant Murkomen.

When the vote was eventually called, Murkomen and his team lost the voice vote and demanded a vote by roll call so that 'it can go on record.'

It is at this point that Central Kenya Senators teamed up with their counterparts from the Minority side to shoot down the motion.

The senators were recalled from the long December recess for a special sitting to decide on how to proceed with the matter.

The Standing Orders allow the Senate both options and in the past four impeachment proposals, they have preferred a committee to first deal the matter, before tabling a report in the House.

The Governor was last month ousted by 63 Kiambu MCAs who cited three grounds for their action. They accused him of corruption, gross misconduct and misuse of his office.

Waititu, his wife Susan Wangari and some officials in his administration were charged last year with graft-related offences.

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