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Kenya Speaker to rule on Ringera saga

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 10 – The Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende was on Thursday scheduled to rule whether Parliament could discuss the annulment of Justice Aaron Ringera’s KACC re-appointment, pending the determination of court cases on the same matter.

Mr Marende is expected to give directions on Parliament’s mandate to discuss issues that are before court, in the face of the existing sub-judice rule which bars such action.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo on Tuesday challenged debate on a report that was tabled in the house rejecting Justice Ringera’s appointment, saying it would prejudice two cases which are pending before the High Court.

The report concluded that President Mwai Kibaki violated the law when he by-passed Parliament and the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission’s Advisory board on the appointment.

Besides annulling the re-appointment the House plans to withhold salaries of Justice Ringera and his two deputies Smokin Wanjala and Fatuma Sichale.  The chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Abdikadir Mohammed has already given a notice of a Motion of amendments to the Appropriations Bill to block salaries of the three directors.

On Wednesday, the Justice Minister stood by Justice Ringera, arguing that MPs were protesting the re-appointment since they are under investigation by the KACC. He tabled a list of seven Ministers, eight MPs and other top government officials under investigations in a bid to defend Mr Ringera’s credibility.

The law requires that anyone appointed as Director or Assistant Director be selected by the KACC Advisory Board and approved by Parliament before appointment by the Head of State.  Whereas the law allows for re-appointment for another term it fails to state whether the same person should be subjected to the entire process.

Mr Kilonzo had argued that the President had powers to re-appoint the director without the usual vetting, whereas MPs maintain that appointments or re-appointments should follow the same criteria by undergoing vetting by the National Assembly and the Advisory Board.

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The Kenya Anti-corruption Advisory board has already stated that it will not renew Justice Ringera’s contract until the case challenging his appointment is concluded.

The two cases pending before the High Court are challenging Justice Ringera’s second term at the helm of the KACC.  Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale who filed one of the case claims that the re-appointment of Justice Ringera and the two deputies was done without the approval of National Assembly.

The KACC through lawyer Githu Muigai said the matter was of public concern and it would be better to hear all parties before granting or denying any orders sought.

The other case was filed by the Nairobi chapter of the Law Society of Kenya and 16 activists led by Okiya Omtatah in which they also sought to temporarily stop Justice Ringera from assuming office until the case was heard and determined.

The two cases have now been set for hearing on September 15.


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