Kenya Ruling Party Expels Lawmakers Tied to Deputy President

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Kenya’s ruling party expelled six lawmakers aligned with Deputy President William Ruto and replaced a key senate leader, the latest sign that it won’t support his plan to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in elections next year.

The Jubilee Party’s National Management Committee kicked out the lawmakers on Monday, after considering the findings of a disciplinary panel, Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said in a statement posted on Twitter. The party’s Chief Whip, Irungu Kang’ata, was replaced by Senator Kimani Wamatangi, Tuju told reporters after a Wednesday meeting.

Over the past three years, Kenyatta has struck alliances with opposition leaders who are seen as possible presidential contenders, undermining Ruto’s bid to succeed him. One of the opposition leaders is Raila Odinga, who ran against Kenyatta in the past two elections.

The party’s dispute tribunal later suspended the expulsion of the senators, Millicent Omanga, Isaac Mwaura, Mary Yiane, Falhada Dekow, Naomi Waqo Jilo, and Victor Prengei, until their case is heard Feb. 16-17, Nairobi-based Citizen Television reported on Wednesday.

The move to kick out the senators comes four months after the NMC recommended that Ruto be stripped of his party deputy leadership position and announced plans to bar him from using Jubilee’s offices for election campaigning. Last year, the Senate ousted its deputy speaker, and the party replaced its majority leader and chief whip, all of whom were Ruto allies.

Kang’ata’s removal as chief whip came amid criticism that he labeled as unpopular proposed constitutional changes being championed by Kenyatta and Odinga. Kang’ata said on Citizen Television that it’s unfair to remove him for reporting what people in his region said about the proposed amendments on the law.

Key amendments under discussion include reintroducing the post of prime minister and two deputies, creating the position of an official opposition leader, and allocating more cash to the nation’s 47 counties. The changes could enable Kenyatta, who is completing his second presidential term, to become prime minister in the next administration.

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