By HOMELAND MEDIA/AGENCIES
A brawl erupted in Kenya’s parliament on Wednesday afternoon as lawmakers were debating a controversial bill governing political parties ahead of next year’s election.
The speaker suspended the session briefly after the chaotic scenes, which saw at least two rival MPs exchange blows, according to images broadcast on local media.
One lawmaker, Bernard Koros, was injured during the fracas, and was seen with blood dripping down his face, while another was expelled from parliament by the speaker.
“I cannot accept to be injured in the national house like this Mr Speaker,” said Koros, a supporter of Deputy President William Ruto.
The fighting broke out after hours of heated debate over the bill, which contains amendments to laws governing political parties and the registration of coalition groupings for elections.
The legislation would allow a coalition of parties to field a candidate in the poll, a departure from the current law that requires a candidate to belong to a party or be independent to vie for a seat.
Opponents of the proposals argue that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his erstwhile foe Raila Odinga will use them to build a formidable coalition ahead of the August 9 vote.
Although Odinga is ostensibly opposition leader, he and Kenyatta declared a truce with a headline-grabbing handshake in 2018 after deadly post-election clashes the year before.
The pact stoked speculation that Odinga, a veteran politician who has made four unsuccessful bids for the presidency, would succeed Kenyatta.
The two had sought to expand the executive through proposed constitutional changes that could have allowed Kenyatta — who is in his second term and cannot run for the presidency again — to stay in power as a prime minister.
Kenya’s top court ruled against those amendments in August but the alliance has endured, with Odinga often attending official government functions with Kenyatta.
The truce has left Ruto, whom Kenyatta had initially anointed as his 2022 successor, out in the cold and he is expected to run against Odinga in the August poll.