Former Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka on Thursday landed the Senate Speaker’s position and promised to jealously protect devolution.
He called for national unity after he was voted in.
As Mr Lusaka rejoiced, a cloud hung over the Jubilee Party’s deal to have Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki picked as his deputy.
In his acceptance speech, Mr Lusaka pleaded with senators to adopt a bipartisan and collegiate leadership that will transform and invigorate the House to embrace various political interests represented in the 12th Parliament and ensure they find their rightful space.
“Let us jealously protect and guard devolution and our beloved country. Let us nurture it the way a parent nurtures a newborn. We don’t have another Kenya. Let’s forge ahead and be guided by unity of purpose. Let’s be the rock upon which Kenyans find refuge and solace,” he told the House.
Mr Lusaka, who also served as Livestock permanent secretary, was declared winner by Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye after a second round of voting.
He garnered 42 votes to defeat his main challenger, Mr Farah Maalim, who received 25 in the contest that had six candidates.
Other contenders were outgoing Speaker Ekwee Ethuro, who won two votes; Mr Paul Ribathi, who got one; and Mr James Gesami and Mr Rameshchandra Gorassia, who both got zero votes
As Mr Lusaka basked in the glory of winning, the House could not elect his deputy after all the candidates who had shown interest in the post withdrew from the race at the last minute.
Mr Johnson Sakaja, Ms Susan Kihika and Mr Kang’ata Irungu had lined up to battle it out for the seat but withdrew after the Jubilee Party Parliamentary Group indicated it would support Prof Kindiki.
Sources told the Nation that the three were asked to withdraw to pave the way for Prof Kindiki, but after they did so, the senator was said to be reluctant to take the seat.
“We shall conduct the exercise when we next reconvene because there is no candidate,” Mr Lusaka ruled soon after taking the chair.
It was not clear whether Prof Kindiki, who was the majority leader in the last Senate, was comfortable with the new position of deputy Speaker.
A lot of resistance had been expected from Mr Ethuro, especially after Jubilee had endorsed Mr Lusaka during its parliamentary group meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House.
Mr Lusaka paid tribute to his predecessor, Mr Ethuro, saying he had ably presided over the “resurrected” Senate in perhaps the most difficult times in Kenya’s history.
“The last Senate was sailing in uncharted waters,” he said, noting that none of the political leadership and senators had a clear idea what their tasks entailed.
“They had to learn how to swim by swimming. It was trial and error at first.”
He promised to safeguard the mandate of the Senate.
“What has been achieved so far is commendable, but we must not rest on our laurels; we must build on the foundation created and make it even better,” he said, while promising to initiate more devolution-compliant Bills to strengthen the devolved system of governance.
It was a major victory for Mr Lusaka, who lost the governor’s seat to Ford-Kenya’s Wycliffe Wangamati.
Mr Lusaka had the last laugh after attempts by the National Super Alliance to block his candidacy were rejected by the presiding officer, Mr Nyegenye.
Senators James Orengo and Mutula Kilonzo Jr had stood on a point of order and questioned whether Mr Lusaka’s candidacy had been subjected to the provisions of the Leadership and Integrity Act.
Prof Kindiki and Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen dashed to the defence of Mr Lusaka, saying he had not been convicted by a competent court of law.
Kuresoi North MP Moses Cheboi was elected Deputy Speaker