NAIROBI, October 6 – The Defence and Foreign Relations Parliamentary Committee met ahead of Parliament’s re-opening on Tuesday to discuss the controversy surrounding the Ukrainian ship that was hijacked off the Somalia coastline 11 days ago.,
Committee Member Ali Hassan Joho told Capital News that the committee planned to take the issue to the floor of the House when the final session this year got underway.
He said the committee would investigate Kenya’s involvement and if it owned any of the military hardware aboard the hijacked ship in Somalia.
“We are waiting for the House to open so that we can establish on behalf of Kenyans the truth of the whole issues, and what preparations can be put in place in terms of legislation and what can be done to ensure such things do not happen again,” he said.
Mutito Member of Parliament Kiema Kilonzo also said MPs would ask the Defence Minister to clarify who owned military hardware.
“Our Government Spokesman has raised issues which imply that whatever is on board is ours. On the other side there are those saying they (arms) belong to Southern Sudan. We are going to ask Yusuf Hajj (Defence Minister) to come clean on this matter,” he said.
On his part, Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba said the issue raised serious security matters that required further investigation and clarification.
Somali pirates hijacked the Ukrainian ship carrying military tanks and other weapons over a week ago and it’s unclear whether they belong to Kenya or Southern Sudan, though the Kenyan government has maintained that the arms belong to Kenya.
American and Russian warships have surrounded the seized vessel but no end is in sight yet. The pirates have demanded some Sh1.5 billion in ransom to secure the release of the vessel.
As Parliament prepared to get down to business after a two-month break, most of the MPs interviewed by Capital News identified the Constitution Amendment and Constitution Review Bills as priority legislation.
They said they expected the two proposed laws to be discussed and passed expeditiously to establish a road map to a new constitution.
Mr Namwamba who has been among the key MPs pushing for an opposition Caucus said the Bill seeking to establish a Grand Opposition in Parliament should be debated by the House before the end of October.
“This Bill is a good law because for the first time ever in the history of this nation, we will have a law that regulates the manner in which the Opposition is constituted, the conduct and duties of the opposition. The Bill has sufficient support to sail through the House,” he said.
Nominated MP Mohammed Affey outlined the agenda of the last session that he said needed to be revisited after it was interrupted by the recess, making specific reference to the Ethnic Relations Bill, the International Crime Bill and Money Laundering Bill which would be up for discussion in the session.
The MPs also said they are eagerly awaiting the Finance Committee to table its report on the sale of the Grand Regency Hotel.
The Clerk of the National Assembly Patrick Gichohi said various renovations had been done during the recess and several other reforms were going on.
He said Parliament had already acquired its own Television and Radio frequencies to go countrywide with its transmissions.
“The Communications Commission of Kenya has given us frequencies covering all parts of the country and as the Speaker of the National Assembly promised by February next year we will be ready with our radio and TV (broadcasts),” he said.
He further said Parliament and the Continental building which houses MPs’ offices were being renovated.
He said Parliament had also acquired its own borehole settling the water controversy that existed between the August House and City Hall.