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Excitement as new young MPs enter parliament

Youngest legislator Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), 23, says election win offers chance to gain experience

The lawmakers liken their orientation to that of new students joining secondary school.

Excitement marked the orientation of newly-elected MPs, with parliamentary staff and security having a hard time identifying first-timers.

The MPs met for the first time in Parliament yesterday for housekeeping briefings ahead of tomorrow’s swearing-in of members of the 12th Parliament.

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The 290 constituency representatives and 47 women from the counties were joined by 12 others who were lucky enough to secure nomination from their respective parties.

Former President Mwai Kibaki’s aide de camp, Geoffrey King’ang’i, a first-time MP representing Mbeere South, likened the experience to new students joining secondary school.

“This is more like an admission process when one is joining secondary school,” said Mr King’ang’i as he filled the registration documents.

Orderlies guided the MPs around key areas of Parliament moments after submitting documents ascertaining that they were the duly elected members.

For the youngest elected MP, 23-year-old John Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), the election to Parliament grants him the chance to gain work experience after his university education.

“I am coming straight from school, with no political experience, and I will try my best to familiarise myself with the parliamentary processes,” said Mr Mwirigi as he joined others on their way into the chambers.

He told The Standard that he arrived in the city aboard a matatu from Meru County and walked from downtown Nairobi to the National Assembly.

The media and even parliamentary staff had a difficult time singling out newly-elected MPs. Sometimes it took the help of the ‘old’ members to introduce their new colleagues, even to Justin Muturi, speaker of the 11th Parliament, who stood at the tail end of the registration queue.

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Mr Muturi, who will be seeking re-election for the position once the members are sworn in tomorrow, welcomed the members, often with a hearty congratulations to those who managed to get re-elected.

NASA members

Even members elected under the National Super Alliance (NASA) took part in the orientation despite threats not to honour the call by President Uhuru Kenyatta to appear in the House for swearing-in on Friday.

Among notable NASA members who attended the briefing were Orange Democratic Movement party chairman and Suba South MP-elect John Mbadi, seen as a front runner for the position of Leader of Minority, his Ugunja counterpart Opiyo Wandayi and Suba North’s Millie Odhiambo.

The orientation also provided a platform for a reunion of members who served in previous terms, lost in the re-election race before bouncing back. Some looked visibly happy to be back after five or even more years in the political cold.

“Of course it feels good to be back. I was here in the 10th Parliament, but missed the 11th. Now I am back. It is refreshing,” said Charles Kilonzo, who recaptured the Yatta parliamentary seat.

Maoka Maore (Igembe North) also made it back. It has been 10 years since he represented the constituency, then known as Ntonyiri, in the ninth Parliament.

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“It feels good to be back after 10 years. So many things have changed, even the electorate’s expectations have changed,” said Mr Maore.

For some like Martha Wangari (Gilgil), Naisula Lesuuda (Samburu West) and Liza Chelule (Nakuru), it was a chance to sample the completeness of the bicameral Parliament, having previously served as nominated senators.

[Additional reporting by Daniel Psirmoi]

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