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Blows and kicks rock House as MPs vote on UhuruRaila bill

Kicks and blows on Wednesday marred MPs’ crucial vote on a coalition bill fronted by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM boss Raila Odinga.

National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi was suspended from the House for the next five consecutive sittings for punching and injuring Sing’owet-Soin MP Kipsengeret Koros.

Temporary Speaker Chris Omulele (MP Luanda) ruled Mbadi was in contempt of House Standing Orders for engaging in a fistfight.

“There must be order in this House,” ruled Omulele as he ordered Mbadi out of the parliamentary precincts immediately.

The Speaker was forced invoke the Standing Orders to punish unruly MPs after they defied orders to resume their sits.

“Order! You cannot be upstanding when the chair is on his feet,”Omulele regularly directed the MPs who crowded the mace area.

More parliamentary orderlies were summoned to guarantee security of the mace -the symbol of authority of the House -amid fears lawmaker could size the priced accessory.

Tangatanga MPs allied to Ruto had taken positions around the mace table, triggering a deadlock as pro-handshake troops charged.

At one point, more MPs were recorded by their colleagues boxing each other in the sitting area of the chamber but did not catch the Speaker’s eye.

The DP’s wing had mobilised 136 MPs into  the House in the game of numbers against combined forces of Uhuru and Raila who had 153 MPs.

The DP yesterday rallied his troops to order under the command of Garissa Town MP Aden Duale.

Mbadi is said to have punched Koros in the face after the UDA-allied MP charged at him when members were voting to consider amendments by Kandara MP Alice Wahome.

There was a standoff that lasted over an hour as MPs clashed over proposed amendments to the controversial Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021 .

The session degenerated into a boxing ring as tempers flared moments after resumption of the afternoon sitting as MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto protested.

The DP’s troops had sponsored a raft of amendments to the bill as part of their plan to dilute the proposed law that is seen as a key plank in plans by Uhuru and Raila to build  a bigger 2022 coalition.

As lawmakers went physical to flex their numerical strength, MPs crowded the front of the chamber and started a brawl that paralysed the better part of the afternoon session.

Omulele had to suspend the sitting for 15 minutes at one point in  a bid to calm MPs.

The deadlock was precipitated by voting on Clause Six of the bill, which provides among other things the procedure to be followed for the registration of a political party.

The clause provides that coalition instruments should be deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties at least six months to the polls.

It further provides that the governance of a coalition party shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Act and regulations relating to the governance of a coalition.

The clause also provides that a member of a coalition shall not be a member of another coalition.

The bill is seen as part of the strategy to turn Azimio La Umoja, Raila Odinga’s 2022 machine, into a coalition party.

Speaking to the press after the suspension, Mbadi – who admitted to punching the Sigowet/Soin MP – faulted the ruling by the Speaker, saying it was against the provision of Standing Orders.

According to Mbadi, Koros was insisting on voting for an absent member despite several warnings against the move by the clerks.

“When I told him (Koros) to leave then the member charged at me and he actually bit my finger,” Mbadi said pointing at his bandaged index finger.

“I was acting in self-defense.”

The Minority Leader however expressed confidence that his side would still defeat the amendments by the Tangatanga wing meant to derail the passing of the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

According to Lugari MP Ayub Savula, the United Democratic Alliance  brigade charged towards the Minority Leader as the voting to consider amendments by Wahome was ongoing.

“UDA MPs attacked the Minority Leader prompting the side of ODM and Wiper to surge towards UDA side and chaos broke out,” Savula said during a press conference at Parliament Buildings.

Omulee also cited  and cautioned nominated MP David Sankok and John Kiarie for throwing water bottles at their colleagues and being disruptive.

“Sankok was throwing bottles at members. I saw it and that is not to be repeated. The Speaker also caught sight of you, John Kiarie, you have been completely disruptive,” said Omulele.

Omulele described Wednesday’s events dishonorable and disheartening.

“It is disheartening and dishonorable for members to behave like this,” the Luanda MP said.

Condemning yesterday’s chaos, Eldas MP  Adan Keynan termed as desperate delay tactics by the Ruto camp to frustrate passage of the bill.

“This is a House of order, and any such future attempts to disrupt properly convened House business must never go unpunished. This bill is for the benefit of all Kenyans, and it will pass because a majority of us in the House support it,” he said.

Ruto’s brigade have staged a spirited fight to either kill the bill or dilute it with multiple amendments.

The DP  recorded a surprise win in the first vote on the controversial amendments bill as he staged a political war against it.

Ruto’s men had sought to derail the debate on the bill by moving several amendments making it impossible to conclude the bill.

Debate on the legislation, backed by Raila and President Kenyatta, ended prematurely on December 22 after which the Speaker directed a further review of the bill at the JLAC.

At the onset, the pro-handshake team suffered their first defeat in the hands of well organized Tangatanga team after 123 MPs voted for John Mutunga’s proposals to amend Clause 3 of the Political Parties Act against 118 from the handshake side.

The Ruto side appeared to enjoy some numerical strength in the House before things turned in favour of the Uhuru-Raila team.

Mutunga had among others proposed amendments to have specific colours for each of dominant parties to avoid confusion.

Pro-handshake MPs stung by the surprise win whipped their members for the second round of vote, beating their Tangatanga colleagues hands down in what turned out to be a game of numbers.

In a supremacy show, 150 MPs supporting Uhuru and Raila voted against  Duale’s move to amend Clause 5.

Duale garnered 136 members who voted in support of the amendment.

 “The results of the decision is that the proposed amendments by Didmus Barasa and Mutunga failed,” Omulele said.

Tangatanga MPs had lined up numerous amendments to among others derail the sitting and weaken the office of the Registrar of Political Parties.

Later, a vote on amendments to Clause 6 backed by Ruto was defeated with 158 against and 134 in favour of it. 

According to pro-Ruto MPs the proposed amendments by National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya gives imperial powers to Anne Nderitu’s office.

On Tuesday, the DP warned the proposed law would give the office of the Registrar of Political Parties  too much power to control parties.

He told Inooro TV on Tuesday if the registrar gets more powers, there will be need to have a board to supervise the office.

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