Jostling for key parliamentary leadership positions has intensified following declaration of vacancies at the office of speaker.
Positions of speaker and deputy speaker for the Senate and National Assembly are up for grabs, with Jubilee Party sure of retaining them.
Parliamentary clerks moved to declare the seats vacant following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s convening of the two houses. Both the National Assembly and Senate will hold their first sessions on Thursday.
Parliament will remain open today for those seeking the four positions to pick their nomination papers, which should be returned by Tuesday.
In the National Assembly, incumbent Justin Muturi is defending his seat with only former Kajiado West MP Moses ole Sakuda having expressed interest by Saturday noon.
There had been reports that Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa would be in the race but he has declared that he has no interest in the seat.
Highly placed sources within Government disclosed that President Kenyatta is happy with Wamalwa’s performance in the Water docket and that chances are high he will retain his CS position. Sources say a CS from Mt Kenya had been lobbying to take over the lucrative Water docket from Wamalwa.
A sitting MP and any member of the public who qualifies to be elected as MP can apply for the speaker’s seat.
However, the seat of Deputy Speaker, which is a preserve of sitting MPs, appears to have aroused more interest with five MPs eying the slot.
In the 11th Parliament, Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso deputised Muturi in a deal that saw then TNA and URP factions of Jubilee share the parliamentary leadership seats.
A group of MPs want the seat to remain in the Rift Valley, with Kuresoi North MP Moses Cheboi as Laboso’s successor even as female legislators demand the position.
Among the female legislators who want the deputy speaker’s seat are Samburu West MP-elect Naisula Lesuuda (Kanu), her Gilgil counterpart Martha Wangari (JP) and Murang’a Woman Representative-elect Sabina Chege. “My leadership capability is not in doubt. In 2010, I was the youngest woman to get the presidential Order of the Grand Warrior. In 2011, I received the International Labour Organisation’s wedge award for Outstanding Professional Woman,” Lesuuda said on Friday.
North Mugirango MP-elect Joash Nyamoko, a new comer, also wants the seat, having served as Nyamira County Assembly speaker.
In the Senate, the seat of Deputy Speaker appears to be narrowing down to a race between Nakuru’s Susan Kihika, Murang’a’s Irungu Kangata and Kaimbu’s Kimani Wa Matangi.
Ms Kihika, according to Jubilee insiders, has an upper hand given majority within the party feel the seat should go to a woman and her experience as the immediate former speaker of the Nakuru County Assembly.
Those who back Kangata say the seat should return home, having been held by Kembi Gitura whom he floored in the race for Murang’a senate seat.
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“We will give you our line up on Tuesday,” Garissa Town MP-elect Aden Duale, who is set to retain the Leader of Majority position in the National Assembly, said. “We are yet to agree on a Jubilee line up.”
In the race for Senate Speaker, a section of Jubilee leaders are backing former Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka. As at yesterday, Jubilee was yet to fully agree, but Lusaka appeared to be the front runner.
Although Ekwe Ethuro is still optimistic of retaining the seat, he appears to have rubbed ‘system boys’ the wrong way. Other names touted to be possible opponents include former CIC Chairman Charles Nyachae and former Migori Senator Wilfred Machage.
Also up for grabs are the leader of majority and minority positions in both houses, their deputies, party chief whips and their deputies and parliamentary committees chairmanship.