• An ally of DP Ruto, Duale's hold on the position was uncertain after the Jubilee Party purged its leadership in the Senate.
• Some Northern Kenya leaders are keen on having the Garissa Township MP retain his powerful position based on his track record.
A scheme by leaders from Northeastern and the opposition could save National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale's job in the House.
An ally of Deputy President William Ruto, Duale's hold on the position was uncertain after the Jubilee Party purged its leadership in the Senate.
Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen and Majority Whip Susan Kihika were replaced by Samuel Poghisio and Irungu Kang'ata, respectively.
The changes were sanctioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 11. The National Assembly leadership was expected to get a similar treatment.
But some Northern Kenya leaders are keen on having the Garissa Township MP retain his powerful position based on his work in Parliament.
They also say Duale should be spared the axe in appreciation of their support for Jubilee in the last two elections.
Duale, although seen as allied to Ruto since they formed URP together, is said not to have disrespected the president.
Because of his experience as an MP for 15 years, Duale had earned the confidence of State House with the president having rejected an initial push by his allies to oust the majority leader.
In what could bode well for Duale, a meeting convened by the President's insiders via video conference on Wednesday night could have sealed a deal to spare him. Uhuru's advisers joined in.
As Uhuru's allies plotted the changes online with three MPs from Central Kenya, a section of Northeastern leaders held a parallel video session to lobby support for their 'kingpin'.
They claim Central Kenya is salivating for the seat yet it was given at the expense of the senior-most Somali political leader in the country.
In a rare move of approval, National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi, on Thursday told the Star Duale has done “a fantastic job and delivered on his mandate.
“It would be unfair to say that Duale has not executed his job well. Duale has not disappointed,” Mbadi said.
He said Duale is a workaholic who has never lost any government business in Parliament and has given the office a high profile.
The ODM chairman said, however, it would be upon the Jubilee Party to weigh other considerations.
Others targeted in the Jubilee purge in the National Assembly are Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali and his deputy Cecily Mbarire.
speaking in an earlier interview, Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe defended Duale, saying he was effective in pushing the government agenda.
“We do not care where Duale’s heart is politically. He has delivered on any assignment the President has given him in the House,” he said.
The office of the Leader of the Majority was created in the 2010 Constitution to head government business in Parliament.
Its occupant is a constitutional office holder just like the Speaker.
The removal of the office holder is provided for under the House Standing Orders that require a majority of party members to sign a notice of removal.
The President's confidants are turning the tables on Ruto and want to remove his troops from key leadership slots in Parliament, not based on performance but loyalty to the party leader, Uhuru.
On Thursday, Jubilee National Advisory Council chairman Albert Mbaka said the party will go to any lengths to instil discipline and loyalty among it members.
“Loyalty to the party leader is not negotiable. We finished cleaning the Senate and now we are headed to the National Assembly,” he told the Star on the phone.
The stakes are high and intense lobbying is going on behind the scenes to avert what some call 'exposing the President'.
A senior Jubilee official said Duale has worked tirelessly to establish harmony with opposition MPs to pass the Jubilee agenda.
“He has given a high profile to the office of the Majority leader. His research has been impeccable with a team player spirit,” political analyst Felix Odhiambo said.
He said Duale is a thorough personality who has created a good relationship between the Speaker's office and the office of the Clerk.
“His successor has his work cut out,” he added.
When Jubilee's parliamentary leadership was overhauled after the 2017 polls, Duale and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi were the only ones retained.
Duale's then-deputy, Taita Taveta MP Naomi Shabaan, was sent packing and so was then-Majority Whip Katoo Metito.
On Thursday, Northeastern leaders would not speak on the record about their claims for fear of political repercussions.
Ten MPs called by the Star declined to speak on the record.
“The Majority leader position in the National Assembly was given to us because of the role we played in the election of President Uhuru. It was our right. Our man has not disappointed either,” a Jubilee MP from Mandera said.
The leaders said the position was given as part of political negotiations with the Somali community and any attempt to take it away in favour of Central Kenya would be “betrayal.”
Duale was instrumental in Uhuru making inroads in Northeastern in the lead up to the 2013 polls when URP swept nearly all parliamentary seats in the region.
Opposition chief Raila Odinga was the region's darling in the 2007 polls but a URP wave swept him away in the 2013 and 2017 polls.
The Jubilee Party secured most elective positions in Northeastern during the 2017 General Election, with President Kenyatta getting 213,000 votes, an improvement from the 175,000 in 2013.
(edited by o. owino)