Kenya: Raila's Men Plan Purge to Rid House of 'Rebels'

Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga (file photo).

Two days after Jubilee Party leader Uhuru Kenyatta carried out a brutal purge in the Senate that saw him sack high-ranking members, including the deputy speaker Kithure Kindiki, ODM leader Raila Odinga is this week set to de-whip a number of legislators from committees in the National Assembly.

Facing the axe are those who have publicly declared support for Deputy President William Ruto or those whose party loyalty is seen as not "steadfast".

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa (Ford Kenya), who became the deputy minority whip courtesy of Nasa, the coalition of Ford-Kenya, Wiper, ANC and ODM in the last polls, is likely to be removed at the Parliamentary Group Meeting (PG) on Thursday chaired by Minority Leader and ODM Chairman John Mbadi.

"We have serious work ahead of us, and we cannot afford to be bogged down by sell-outs," Minority Whip Junet Mohamed told the Sunday Nation on Saturday.

"As the whip, I've done loyalty tests and the results are negative. All those affected will be quarantined for at least six months. The time is up for the excess baggage in our midst."

Mr Mohamed confirmed he had sent out the invites to all Nasa MPs, as it emerged the decision was approved by a Central Management Committee meeting chaired by Mr Odinga at his private offices at Capitol Hill on Friday.

"We expect a full house on Thursday. You cannot enjoy being a member of a committee and still fight the appointing authority," said the whip.

REWARDING LOYALISTS

Those likely to lose their posts in committees include Kaloleni MP Paul Katana (ODM), Tindi Mwale (ANC, Butere), Aisha Jumwa (ODM, Malindi), Silvanus Osoro (KNC, South Mugirango) and Bady Twalib (ODM, Jomvu).

The party will also be making another attempt to kick Ms Jumwa out of the Parliamentary Service Commission.

The first such attempt, on account of working with "enemies of the party", flopped after the Jubilee side of the House blocked it.

Things may, however, be different this time round, as the two sides are now working together.

Since the invites were sent out, three lawmakers have been frantically trying to secure appointments with Mr Odinga to iron things out.

Mr Mbadi told the Sunday Nation that the changes are "normal" and no one is being targeted, adding that the party will only make minimal changes in the reorganisation of the committees to put the best foot soldiers in key committees.

The teams targeted in the reorganisation are the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, the Delegated Legislation Committee and the Constitution Implementation and Oversight Committee (CIOC).

"We want to bring in our strong and best legal minds into these committees," Mr Mbadi said.

The three committees are seen as major players and most crucial in House business, which will take place when Parliament resumes on June 2.

DP SUPPORTERS

The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee is currently under firm grip of DP Ruto's allies, as it is chaired by Baringo North lawmaker William Cheptumo, with the vice-chairperson being Kandara MP Alice Wahome.

The Delegated Legislation team is headed by another Ruto ally, Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Shollei, while the CIOC is chaired by a President Kenyatta ally, Jeremiah Kioni.

The CIOC drafted the Referendum Bill, 2020 - which will be tabled when lawmakers resume sittings.

The bill seeks to have a referendum held together with the 2022 General Election to minimise costs. It also proposes measures to bridge the existing legal gaps.

The Sunday Nation has learnt that the Orange party is considering bringing on board Rarieda MP Otiende Amolo and Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang' into the Justice Legal Affairs Committee and CIOC.

Currently, the two ODM members in the Legal Affairs Committee are Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town) and his Mathare counterpart Anthony Oluoch.

ANC nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi's open support for Mr Odinga has spared him the purge.

During the meeting, Mr Odinga is said to have asked one of his lieutenants to remove the MP's name from the list, saying he has at critical times risked his seat by supporting positions taken by the former prime minister.

With reports of looming Cabinet changes, the President does not want a situation where a nominee fails to get parliamentary nod.

He and Mr Odinga have told their allies that they expect total party discipline in the House and will stop at nothing to achieve it.

EMASCULATE RUTO

The President's men reportedly had a celebratory dinner hosted by Nancy Gitau on Friday after the successful removal of Prof Kindiki as deputy speaker.

It is the last-minute "defection" of the likes of Senator Millicent Omanga to support the motion to kick out Prof Kindiki that is said to have impressed the "war council".

Now emboldened by the success, the council, who expected the forces loyal to the DP to mount a spirited fight, will likely escalate their activities to enforce the President's desires in the political arena.

Parliament will have a crucial role to play in the event the country goes to a referendum to change the Constitution, as the Building Bridges task force is expected to recommend that route and the ongoing purge could be part of the push to make the road smoother.

Sources at the Jubilee Party headquarters intimate that the National Assembly is the next stop and Ruto allies will be purged.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wa is expected to lose his plum position in the Budget Committee.

Already, politicians loyal to the DP, such as senators Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika, have been relieved of their roles as majority leader and whip, respectively.

Observers say all these are meant to clip Dr Ruto's political wings so much so that by the time the elections are called, his influence will have diminished to a point of not posing any serious challenge to the candidate fronted by the Handshake side.

ERRANT MEMBERS

In what looks like a coordinated exercise, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka has also ordered a purge of errant members of his party as he worms him way into the envisaged government of national unity.

Deputy minority leader Robert Mbui of Wiper said they will de-whip members who have been acting contrary to party ideals.

"Party loyalty is what we are interested in. Some members have been acting as if they are independent," Mr Mbui told the Sunday Nation.

"If members behave badly, they are de-whipped. Consultations are still going on within Wiper to figure out members who can work with the government because that is what our party leader wants," Mr Mbui added.

He, however, said the names of those targeted will be revealed in three weeks' time.

But in what will further aggravate the frosty relations in Nasa, Ford Kenya secretary-general Eseli Simiyu said no one has consulted them on the pending changes in House leadership and committee membership.

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