NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Political unity between President Uhuru Kenyatta
and his rival in last year’s polls opposition leader Raila
Odinga has brought rare cohesion in Parliament.
The two leaders on
March 9 agreed to put their differences arising from last year’s
polls aside and work together.
The new-gained unity
has filtered into parliament with legislators from both the
opposition and the ruling party Jubilee in the Senate and
National Assembly are working together.
It is the first time
in years the two sides are working together in parliament, with
previous sessions having been characterized by great disharmony.
The last time such
unity was displayed in parliament was in 2003 soon after
opposition led by Mwai Kibaki took over the government from
former president Daniel Moi.
But the sessions of
2008-2012 and 2013-2017 have been acrimonious, with opposition
MPs and ruling party pulling apart on nearly all issues.
The current unity in
parliament was evident on Wednesday when Kenyatta made his State
of the Nation address. MPs from both the opposition and his
party applauded him as he outlined his successes and agenda for
In 2017, his address
was marred by boos, shouts and name-calling from the opposition,
with the speaker kicking out two MPs.
“The spirit of the
Uhuru-Raila handshake was consultation not confrontation. So we
will work with the government in the spirit of unity but we
would correct them if they go wrong,” said opposition lawmaker
“I am happy that we
have united as MPs and we will continue to do so for the better
of the country after the unity deal,” said Jubilee Senator
Kimani wa Matangi.
Many Kenyans have
similarly lauded the rare unity in parliament, noting it would
make business in both Senate and the National Assembly
“I believe this is
the end of the ugly scenes we have witnessed in parliament for
over a decade where MPs called each other names and even fought
on the floor of the House,” said Brian Shitsama, a secondary
school teacher in Nairobi.
He noted that while
MPs in last sessions differed on crucial issues that affected
citizens based on their political affiliations, they united only
when raising their salaries.
“This time the unity
should translate in robust debate and more legislation,” he
noted that while the unity in parliament should be lauded, it is
a double-aged sword.
“This unity may mean
the rubberstamping of issues that the executive wants, some
which may not be good for the country,” said Ernest Manuyo, a
business management lecturer in Nairobi.
He added that MPs
may ignore their oversight role as they seek not to be seen as
rocking the unity.
arrangement shows there is little or no opposition in
parliament, a situation that may lead to formulation of weak
laws as it suppresses divergent views,” he said.
that the cohesion in parliament was good for economic, social
and political take off of the country.
“When there is unity
especially in parliament, the country focuses on important
issues other than the acrimony among leaders,” he concluded.
James ole Kiyiapi, a
professor and political analyst, noted that the unity of leaders
in the country in and outside the parliament should translate to
monumental transformation of our society and politics. “We
should have a new history of Kenya,” he said.
Jubilee and its
affiliate parties currently have 213 seats out of 349 in the
National Assembly and 38 senators out of 67.
Previously, it had
167 votes in the assembly and 30 in the senate. Opposition
National Super Alliance and partners share the rest.