State withdraws crucial Bills as advised

January 18, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo has withdrawn the Judicial Service Commission and Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Bills from the floor of the House as advised by the Constitution Implementation Commission (CIC) on Monday.

Mr Kilonzo told the House on Tuesday afternoon that this would allow the CIC to have its input into the Bills and lead consultations on any pending matters.

The two Bills which were tabled last December had been approved by the Cabinet and gone through the first reading.

He said: "My Ministry is organising a seminar on January 24, where we can go and talk together and then we can move forward in clarity."

Speaker Kenneth Marende welcomed the move and said allowing the input of the CIC conformed to constitutional procedure.

In his ruling last year Mr Marende, had raised concern over the rush in which the Government was acting saying that the CIC had not been formed to review the Bills before Parliament debated it.

However he congratulated the two for abiding with the provision of the Constitution

"The minister was anxious given that he is the line minister in charge of implementation of the Constitution but the issues being raised are matters that the House was awake to," he said.

The CIC on Monday urged the minister to withdraw the two Bills to allow for amendments.

Chairman Charles Nyachae said there were a number of technical issues that needed to be addressed before the House begun debate on the Bill.

Mr Nyachae said the manner in which the Bill was tabled in Parliament was not in conformity with the letter of the Constitution which requires that the commission give its input.

However, AG Amos Wako maintained that the JSC Bill was formally before the House unlike the Vetting of Magistrates and Judges Bill which is in the Sixth schedule of the Constitution and therefore requires the input of the commission.

He however blamed the setback on the MPs whom he said dilly-dallied with the passage of the JSC Bill last year adding it would have been procedural since the CIC had not been formed by then.

Gwassi MP John Mbadi said the government was "rush and irresponsible" in recalling the House yet they had not organized business to be transacted.

The House has been recalled two months earlier in order to set up laws that will help set up the framework for replacing the Chief Justice by February and AG by August.

Garsen MP Danson Mungatana said: "I am disappointed as will be every Kenyan, that we are not going to commence the business of enacting the provisions of the Constitution," he said.

He added that the AG and Mr Kilonzo owed Kenyans an apology for misleading the House and Kenyans on the procedure of tabling the constitutional bills. However the government held firm stating the AG and Constitutional Affairs Minister were right in their interpretation.

The MPs criticised both the AG and Mutula saying that they had refused to heed to their views that the publication was unconstitutional.

A section of MPs cautioned against Parliament indulging in the supremacy battle with the CIC.

Kuria MP Wilfred Machage while supporting the withdrawal said: "I hope the commission is not mischievous in bringing this delay, if its contribution will not be substantive and only meant to stamp their finger on the Bills, then they will have started off on the wrong foot."

While Nairobi Metropolitan Minister Robinson Githae added: "We will lose 14 days because of some people want to engage in empire building. I want to say that we will not be able to pass the 49 Bills if we engage in this type of thing."


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