The trouble that has been brewing in Jubilee Party boiled over Monday, with President Kenyatta presiding over the sacking of Senate leaders allied to his deputy William Ruto.
But in a show of open defiance, Senators Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika, who were kicked out as Majority Leader and Majority Whip, respectively, told Mr Kenyatta it was not over yet and that they were not going anywhere.
“We can’t run the country through forgery,” Mr Murkomen told reporters at Parliament Buildings, attacking the President for the way he handled the meeting at State House.
In the changes, West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio was elected the new Leader of Majority, while Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata was elevated to the position of Majority Whip.
Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo retained her seat as the Deputy Majority Leader while nominated Senator Farhiya Ali got a major boost in her short political career, when she was elected the Deputy Majority Whip.
State House confirmed the changes through a dispatch from the President’s spokesperson, which stated that 20 lawmakers attended the meeting.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja had been proposed for the position of deputy whip, but he rejected, paving the way for Ms Ali to run away with the prize.
Others who attended the meeting were Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju and State House Deputy Chief of Staff Njee Muturi.
At his press briefing, Mr Murkomen claimed they would not leave office because no invitation for the State House meeting had been sent out and that no agenda had been circulated
Monday’s events are boiling down to a game of numbers pitting Mr Kenyatta against Mr Ruto.
While State House announced that 20 lawmakers had attended the Parliamentary Group meeting, the Ruto team released their own list showing that 22 lawmakers allied to the DP did not honour Mr Kenyatta’s invite.
Jubilee Party has 38 senators, including those from Kanu. Any motion to remove anyone in the House leadership must be approved by 20 senators, which is a simple majority of the 38.
With both sides arguing on the numbers, the onus is now on Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka to determine who is saying the truth.
According to procedure, it’s the whip who will have to notify the Speaker on the proceedings at State House.
This task falls on the shoulders of Mr Kang’ata, the current deputy whip, who was at the meeting.
Among the documents he is required to submit to Mr Lusaka is the notification for the PG and whether the necessary time was accorded to the senators, the agenda, the list of the senators who attended and the resolutions.
If Mr Lusaka is satisfied that everything was procedural, he will declare the two were legally removed and hoist Mr Poghisio as the new majority leader.
Mr Ruto’s team has written a protest note to Mr Lusaka dismissing the PG as a product of forgery and claimed that it did not have a quorum.
The letter authored by Ms Kihika further protested the changes, saying, the senators at State House were less than half of all Jubilee members, and that no vote was taken to confirm the changes.
“The requirements that make it mandatory for more than half of the senators to remove a majority leader or minority leader were not met,” Ms Kihika says in the letter.
The Nakuru senator said the decision was not sanctioned by the National Executive Committee as required by the Jubilee Party constitution.
At State House, Mr Tuju opened the meeting and invited the President to speak before the lawmakers could get down to business.
In his brief remarks, which those present considered a dig at his deputy, the President said it is only those who humble themselves before the public who will have a future in politics and gain from it.
“It’s good to humble yourself. Those who want power through force will not get far,” he said, even as he took the meeting to a brief genesis on his handshake with ODM leader Raila Odinga.
“My intention was and is not to kick anyone out. The handshake was the only way out because the country was ungovernable at the time we agreed to work together with Mr Odinga,” he said.
“Using force to deal with the situation at that time would not have been helpful,” he added, promising to work with those elected on Monday.
The President further told the lawmakers that he had personally invited all the senators and thanked those who had responded to the resolve to strengthen the party.
Mr Ruto’s allies dared the President to sack all the people in his government perceived to be close to the DP, even as they declared they are not desperate to hold onto the parliamentary positions.
“If this will enable him focus on the more serious issues facing the country, then he can as well sack all of the people in his government who support the DP,” said Nandi Senator Samson Cherargey.
However, Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter supported the proposal to remove the two, arguing that it is unethical and immoral for Mr Murkomen to continue to contradict the President.
Political analyst Herman Manyora yesterday told the DP and his allies to stop living in denial and face the emerging reality that suggests that he is unwanted by the President.
“He will no longer have the luxury to play mind games with Jubilee supporters and about his perceived closeness with the President. This was the final nail in the coffin because it appears that he was not even invited.”
He said Ruto must stop fighting the President and go back to the drawing board.
By Ibrahim Oruko, Patrick Lang’at, Jeremiah Kiplang’at, and Onyango K'onyango.