Scuffle breaks out over control of Kenya parliament

A scuffle broke out in Kenyan Parliament on Thursday evening following a ruling by the Speaker on a deadlock over the coalition with the majority in the House.

Opposition lawmakers were angered by the Speaker’s ruling that recognised the ruling Kenya Kwanza (Kenya first) coalition, with 179 Members of Parliament (MPs), as having the majority.The opposition has 157 MPs, the Speaker said.

The crux of the debate was the placement of 14 MPs whose parties were originally in the opposition Azimio la Umoja (Quest for unity) coalition, but have since shifted allegiance across the aisle.

Opposition MPs argued that the constitutional timeline allowing for decamping from coalitions had not yet been reached.

One opposition MP tried to grab the mace – the symbol of parliamentary authority – to express displeasure at the ruling.The live broadcast of the session was cut after the fight broke out on Thursday evening.

Kenyan politics is known to be highly partisan and physical fights are common in Parliament.

In 2021, a brawl erupted in Kenya’s Parliament as lawmakers were debating a controversial bill governing political parties ahead of the election.

The Speaker suspended the session briefly after the chaotic scenes, which saw at least two rival MPs exchange blows, according to images broadcast on local media.

One lawmaker, Bernard Koros, was injured during the fracas and was seen with blood dripping down his face, while another was expelled from Parliament by the Speaker.

“I cannot accept to be injured in the National House like this Mr Speaker,” said Koros, a supporter of then Deputy President, William Ruto.

The fighting broke out after hours of heated debate over the bill, which contains amendments to laws governing political parties and the registration of coalition groupings for elections.

The legislation would allow a coalition of parties to field a candidate in the poll, a departure from the current law that requires a candidate to belong to a party or be independent to vie for a seat.

Opponents of the proposals argue that former President, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his erstwhile foe, Raila Odinga,a will use them to build a formidable coalition ahead of the August 9 vote. –BBC/AFP

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