Speculation rife as Uhuru ‘summons’ Parliament leadership to State House

By Hillary Mageka On Thu, 15 Oct, 2020 15:21 | 4 mins read
State House
State House, Nairobi. PHOTO | PD

President Uhuru Kenyatta is on Saturday scheduled to hold a meeting with the leadership of both the Senate and the National Assembly in what is seen as the sensitization process of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) final report.

The meeting to be held at State House, Nairobi will be attended among other House speakers, their deputies, majority, and minority leaders alongside their assistants.

Others enlisted are chairs and their deputies from both houses of Parliament.

The assembly which will be the first of kind coming months after a brutal parliamentary purge on Deputy President (DP) William Ruto’s allies which saw them lose their plum positions to President Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga’s loyalists.

“I have received a request from His Excellency the President on the need to meet the leadership of the Senate and all committee chairs and vice-chairs,” Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka said in a letter dated October 14, 2020.

“This is, therefore, to invite you to a meeting with his Excellency, the President on Saturday, October 17, 2020, at 11:00 am at State House, Nairobi

You are required to be seated by 10:30 am, Please be punctual,” Lusaka added.

The meeting with Parliamentary leadership comes barely a day after the Head of State lead his Cabinet on a two-day retreat at KWS Training Centre in Manyani ahead of Mashujaa Day next week.

It also comes on the backdrop of an advisory by Chief Justice David Maraga for the President to dissolve Parliament, a call the Head of State recently said he is not keen on implementing.

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has since already constituted a five-judge bench to listen and determine cases filed against the advisory.

Although details on the agenda of the meeting remain scanty as at the moment, the unveiling of the BBI report, bonding of new house leaderships with the president, and frequent sibling rivalry among the two houses of Parliament will prominently feature.

After the purge in Jubilee Party and signing of political coalitions that have guaranteed them numbers, President Kenyatta and Raila are said to be considering pushing the BBI proposals through Parliament and not the long route of collecting one million signatures and getting the endorsement of county assemblies for a referendum.

Lawmakers allied to the two leaders are also reportedly pushing for the BBI to go through the parliamentary route of altering the Constitution to hasten the planned plebiscite.

However, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, a friend turned critic of the Jubilee administration claimed that the President’s meeting with the House leadership will be an “informal launch pad” of the BBI final report as the Cabinet had already met on Thursday and discussed the yet to be launched the report.

This even as Murkomen accused Uhuru of managing the BBI process like a private property despite being a public discourse.

“I can’t remember any other process that involves the people of Kenya that has been managed like private property even more than official secrets,” Murkomen, a former Senate majority leader claimed on Twitter on Thursday.

“So, the Cabinet will discuss BBI final report today and be launched in State House on Saturday. Now let the campaigns begin,” he added.

Murkomen, who is among the close allies of DP Ruto who were kicked out of their parliamentary plum positions, sensationally claimed that “he can authoritatively state that there not more than five people who know what is in the BBI report”.

“Even ODM leader Raila Odinga and BBI chairman Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji don’t know the contents of the final report just like they didn’t know what was in the first report that was launched in Bomas. All are waiting for Saturday’s launch,” he wrote.

Reached for comment, Lusaka distanced himself from Murkomen’s assertions, saying he is not aware that the state House meeting will discuss BBI.

As senate leadership, he said they only tell the agenda once “they get there” because it is the President’s meeting.

“Meeting has been long overdue. It is going to be a bonding session with the new leadership. We will also be finding out how effectively we can support the executive on our part in its agenda,” the speaker told People Daily in a phone interview.

Lusaka said that most of the Executive agenda is processed through House committees. As such, various chairs and their deputies will be integral in the execution and realization of the President’s agenda.

“At the committee level, it may take a bit long but we wanted this bonding and commitment, that we will be also in the forefront in supporting the executive in its agenda when it comes to parliament,” he added, disclosing that both the Senate and the National Assembly leadership will attend the Saturday meeting.

“It will also be the first time the new House leadership, the committee chairs, and their deputies from both houses will be meeting. It is a good opportunity for us to interact and maybe agree on how will be working us together,” he held.

Top of the Senate’s agenda, according to him, will be the Sh2 billion counties oversight fund.

“We hope that it is going to be sorted out once for all because the President had committed to facilitating senators through the fund to carry out their oversight work in the counties,” he noted, reiterating that the Senate leadership will be keen to have the matter settled once for all.

Lusaka also revealed that the state House meeting will firm up logistics for President to address both Houses in early November after the short recess.

“He is going to address Parliament immediately we come back. That is early November. That will be firmed up but is going to be early November. That is for sure,” he noted.

On his part, Deputy Minority Leader and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said the President has all the rights to hold consultative meetings with Parliamentary leaders as the head of the nation.

“We are pleased to have been invited to the meeting. I only hope that the agenda of the meetings will be beneficial to all Kenyans,” Malala said.

“As you know, the Executive cannot work in isolation. As the legislature, we must work together for the betterment of the country. I will be looking forward to attending the meeting on Saturday,” he added.

Asked whether he is aware of the agenda of the meeting, Malala said the President as convener of the State House meeting has his agenda.

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