Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetangula has been elected as the new National Assembly Speaker, coming in to replace the outgoing Justin Muturi.
Wetangula, who was fronted by President-elect William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza camp, beat his competitor Kenneth Marende of the Raila Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party.
Papa wa Roma, as he is often referred to, clinched the seat after garnering 215 votes against Marende’s 130 votes during the first round of voting.
The voting was set to go for the second round, since none of the candidates had acquired the required two-thirds of votes needed, but Marende withdrew from the race hence leaving Wetangula as the winner.
Wetangula hence was immediately sworn in after taking the oath of office on the floor of the House, with outgoing Speaker Muturi formally congratulating and handing over the reins to him.
In his acceptance speech after being sworn in, the Ford Kenya party boss pledged to focus in enhancing public trust, as well as upholding cooperation between both Houses of Parliament.
He further vowed to ensure collaboration between the National Assembly and other arms of government, especially the Judiciary which he said has consistently asked for fair treatment from the House.
“I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to the members here assembled for the high honour that you have bestowed upon me by electing me as the Speaker of this August House. I accept and submit to your will, and I am ready to serve as the eighth Speaker of the National Assembly since our independence,” he said.
“I commend all the citizens who expressed interest in becoming your Speaker by formally returning their nomination papers, and laud the efforts of my worthy opponent in today’s election; Kenneth Otiato Marende, who also happens to have been one of my distinguished predecessors having served as the 7th Speaker. I am internally humbled and extremely privileged to now occupy this hallowed seat.”
Wetangula further added that the National Assembly has organized a retreat for MPs from September 18-24, 2022 at a venue to be communicated at a later date.
The voting came after drama in the early stages of the National Assembly session during which a section of Azimio-allied legislators opposed Wetangula’s candidature saying he was ineligible to run for the Speaker’s seat.
Wetangula had been elected to serve for another term as Bungoma Senator at the August 8, 2022 polls, but resigned from the position to run for Speaker of the National Assembly.
However, Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang’ questioned his eligibility claiming the circumstances under which he resigned are unconstitutional.
Kajwang alleged that Wetangula submitted his resignation a day after the General Election, an action he says is invalid since then Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka – to whom the resignation was reportedly sent – had been elected Bungoma Governor by then, hence the Speaker’s office was considered vacant.
These remarks however did not sit well with the Kenya Kwanza faction, with MPs Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu) and Aden Duale (Garissa Township) rubbishing them as mere witch hunts.
The House Acting Clerk Serah Kioko, upon listening to both sides, allowed Wetangula to vie for the Speaker position saying she was certified that he had met all the necessary qualifications.