Kenyan MPs back to work

January 20, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, January 20 – Parliament is due to reconvene on Tuesday – two months early – to provide a legislative framework for the establishment of a Tribunal to try post-election offenders.

The House, which went on recess on December 18 last year, was expected to resume sittings in March but was recalled by President Mwai Kibaki to conclude business that remained outstanding in their last session.

Two weeks ago, President Kibaki after consultations with National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende, asked Members of Parliament to resume work, eliminating fears that the Government may not beat the March 1 deadline given by the Waki Commission into Post Elections Violence to set up the Tribunal.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo said in an interview that the implementation of the Waki and Kriegler Reports had hastened the MPs’ return to the House.

“This is a special session of Parliament and if we don’t deal with the Waki report, people will go to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to set up the Tribunal recommended by the Justice Philip Waki chaired Commission of inquiry into the clashes ahead of the Christmas festivities, by signing an agreement.

According to Waki’s timetable, Parliament ought to have enacted a special statute establishing the Tribunal within 40 days of signing the agreement.

Another matter awaiting Parliament’s attention is the formation of the Independent Interim Electoral Commission (IIEC), following the disbandment of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK).

The ECK was disbanded on December 24 last year after President Kibaki assented to the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, which also entrenched the constitution review process into law.

Already, the process of selecting a committee of experts that would help write the constitution is on course spearheaded by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review, which is headed by Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed.

The team met ahead of Parliament’s re-opening to shortlist candidates for the committee, which will have nine constitutional experts, six locals and three foreigners. 

Committee Member Ekwe Ethuro said that the current wrangles within government would not derail Parliamentary Business. 

Mr Ethuro said: “The least Kenyans expect from us is that we do the things that would help push the country forward, not political bickering.”

In its first year, the Tenth Parliament passed 17 Bills and adopted 40 Motions between March and the time the House was adjourned for Christmas.

The most important were the National Accord and Reconciliation Bill 2008, leading to the National Accord and Reconciliation Act to establish a grand coalition at the beginning of 2008.

Another is the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2008 that disbanded the ECK.

The Bills also include the draconian Kenya Communications (Amendment) Bill 2008 that President Kibaki assented to on January 2.

His assent lead to a face-off between the State and the media fraternity, but the government has since agreed to fresh talks on amendments to the law.


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