Ruto denies proposal for office of Official Leader of Opposition is aimed at giving Raila a job

President William Ruto has denied accusations that his proposal to create the Office of the Official Leader of the Opposition is a way to give Raila Odinga a formal job.

Speaking to journalists at State House in Nairobi on Wednesday, Ruto said that his aim was to promote accountability within his government. “I am not creating a job for anyone,” Ruto said.

He added, “I want to create an office that promotes accountability in my government. In a democracy, being power-drunk is very easy, especially if there are no checks and balances.”

Odinga and his party, Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya, have accused Ruto of attempting to reintroduce BBI proposals, including the establishment of the Office of the Opposition Leader, through the backdoor.

Ruto has written to the Speakers of the National Assembly and Senate, Moses Wetangula and Amason Kingi, asking them to consider introducing constitutional amendment bills to set up the office.

During a Kenya Kwanza Parliamentary Group meeting, Ruto urged MPs to support the proposal, which he said would make the minority more effective in holding the government accountable.

“To have an acceptable system in a democracy you need a strong opposition that is well resourced, has avenues to reach the government and engage in national dialogue without hindrances,” said Owen Baya, the National Assembly Deputy Majority Leader. “That is why we are confident such a position in this country will take the country forward.”

Under the proposal, the party or coalition of parties with the second highest number of votes would automatically take on the position of Official Leader of the Opposition, with the option of nominating a representative.

Azimio has called for the leader of the official opposition to be allowed to address Parliament annually.

While a substantive bill has yet to be tabled on the floor of the House, it is expected that Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah will sponsor a joint bill.

There has been some debate over whether the position should be filled by Odinga specifically. Ichung’wah has argued that the “handshake” between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Odinga, which took place in 2018, effectively “muzzled” the opposition.

“If you’re talking about muzzling of the opposition then it came with the handshake because it was an unorthodox way of muzzling the opposition,” Ichung’wah said. Silvanus Osoro, the Majority Whip, added, “This thing of imagining that the official opposition leader is a preserve of Raila Odinga… he can be a president one day so why would we assume it’s for Raila? We don’t know who will be opposition leader in 2027, laws don’t operate retrogressively.”



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