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House approves motion for Grand Opposition

NAIROBI, May 7 – Parliament may soon have a Grand Opposition after members unanimously approved a motion to introduce a Bill that would create it.

Members Tuesday agreed to the tabling of The Official Opposition Bill, which aims to anchor, govern and regulate the Opposition in Parliament.

The motion, which was moved by the Budalangi Member of Parliament (MP) Ababu Namwamba, was unanimously endorsed by all MPs present in the House and who included Justice Minister Martha Karua plus three Assistant Ministers.

Karua however told the House that the spirit behind the Grand Coalition Government must be observed to realise necessary reforms that the 10th Parliament must undertake.

She said: “Opposition ensures that the government delivers but we still need to be together as agreed in the National Accord Bill passed by this House.”

Moving his motion Namwamba had said that there was need for a formal opposition in the House to coordinate checks and balances on the government.

He said the role of the opposition could not be left to backbenchers since they were not properly organised.

“There is need for a shadow cabinet which will give its stand on various issues raised by the government,” the Budalangi legislator told the House.

He explained that the grand opposition was aimed at meeting the expectations of Kenyans and dismissed claims that it had been spurred by the fact that some MPs missed out on Cabinet appointments.

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“We all know we cannot all fit in the Cabinet. Wanting opposition in the House is not a vengeance mission.”

Namwamba at the same time clarified that the MPs would not disown their parent parties, just like the Ministers and Assistant Ministers have remained in theirs.

He said the formation of an opposition should not be seen as the making of a new political party.

The lack of an opposition in the House has been a sticky topic since the signing of a power sharing deal in February.

More than 60 MPs had in the recent weeks expressed their desire to form a Coalition Opposition in Parliament to ensure governmental accountability following the setting up of a merged Cabinet.

The MPs, from various parties (including those in the Coalition Government) had sought approval from the Speaker of the National Assembly to form the opposition, and signed a petition to that effect.

Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim had however ruled that none of the parties qualified to become the official opposition since none of them had the minimum requisite of 30 members.

According to the Standing Orders, the party with the majority of MPs outside the government automatically becomes the official opposition in Parliament.

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