Kenya’s President-Elect Ruto Stamps Authority on Parliament

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(Bloomberg) -- William Ruto, who won Aug. 9 presidential elections by a razor-thin margin, stamped his authority over the East African nation’s parliament on Thursday, with his allies securing key posts in both chambers.

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Moses Wetangula, a long-serving lawmaker and senior member of Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza coalition, was elected speaker of the National Assembly -- the third-most senior role in the government after that of the president and the deputy. Wetangula defeated Kenneth Marende, who served as speaker from 2008 to 2013 and had the backing of an alliance led by Raila Odinga, the runner-up in last month’s presidential vote.

Amason Kingi, another Ruto ally, was elected speaker of the Senate earlier on Thursday. The parliamentary sessions were broadcast live from the capital, Nairobi.

Securing control of parliament will be key for Ruto to control the legislative agenda and make budget allocations and executive appointments. His pledges to invest at least 500 billion shillings ($4.2 billion) in farming, which employs more than 40% of the workforce, and set aside 50 billion shillings annually for a so-called “Hustler Fund” to boost small businesses, may require lawmakers to review the 2022-23 national budget that was approved in April.

Ruto, who is scheduled to be sworn in as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor on Sept. 13, also plans to change parliamentary rules to allow ministers to appear before lawmakers to answer questions about their briefs. The move will help increase accountability, he told supporters on Wednesday in Nairobi.

The 349-member National Assembly processes funding allocations and legislation, and approves presidential appointments, including those of cabinet ministers, envoys and heads of state agencies, while the senate’s 67 members focus mainly on matters affecting the administration of the country’s 47 counties.

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