NAIROBI, August 7 – Parliament went on recess Thursday despite strong opposition from some back benchers, in a heated debate that had to be resolved through a division.
The Government won by 55 to 45 votes when the question on whether to proceed for recess was put to division.
Led by the Deputy Leader of Government Business in the House, Martha Karua, the state side said that the two-month adjournment was ideal as it would give Members of Parliament (MPs) time to focus on their constituencies and accord ministers time to concentrate on governance issues.
“I do beg that this house adjourns until the 7th of October. It has been the tradition of the House to take a break at this time, Karua proposed.
The recess, she said, would also allow Parliamentary Committees time to conduct more business.
Backbenchers however opposed the motion saying there were matters of national importance that must be concluded before recess.
Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa said the House should break only after they had discussed a report by the Finance and Trade Committee on the controversial sale of the Grand Regency Hotel.
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee had earlier been stopped from tabling the report in the House, after the Deputy Speaker ruled that proper procedure was not followed.
Farah Maalim told the Nambale MP Chris Okemo that he could not table the report because it had not been circulated to Members as required.
The report will now have to be debated when the House resumes in October.
Wamalwa further stated that issues of the troubled Rift Valley Railways should also be finalised.
He told the House; “These two matters can be concluded if an extra two weeks is given. If we leave them now they will be overtaken by other events.”
Earlier, the Government Chief Whip George Thuo told Capital News that despite the delays in parliamentary business due to the crisis at the start of the year, MPs had managed to pass most of the important bills in the second quarter of the year.
He also said Parliament successfully rose above political and ethnical divisions triggered during the election crisis and took the lead in healing the nation.
He believed that the MPs had performed to the expectations of Kenyans.
Those supporting the motion said MPs would use the recess to ensure Internally Displaced Persons have been resettled and peacefully been accepted in their communities.
Gender and Children Affairs Minister Esther Mathenge said that the time could also be used by MPs to be with their children, who are on the August school-holiday break.
Meanwhile, Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo has threatened to make the report on the Grand Regency saga public.
Midiwo, who was kicked out of the House for trying to raise the issue after the Speaker had ruled, claimed that there were some senior legislators who were trying to undermine the work of the House Finance Committee.
“We are under obligation not to divulge what is in that report unless it is tabled but I want to give a final commitment that unless the report is tabled by Tuesday, I shall publicly call a press conference and read that report for you page by page, including the recommendations, because I do not want to be a part of this conspiracy,” he uttered.
The Gem legislator further claimed that it was unusual for the Deputy Speaker to fail to give Okemo a chance to defend his position.
“Farah Maalim did not complain at any point that he has not seen the report so the speaker basically lied in his attempt to stop Okemo from laying down the report.”
According to sources, the report suggests that the Former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya should not be allowed to hold any public office.
It further recommends that the Parliamentary Committee on Powers and Privileges takes action against Kimunya.