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Kenyan MPs take up Ringera matter

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 3 – Two Parliamentary committees were on Thursday mandated to investigate whether President Mwai Kibaki acted within the law in re-appointing Aaron Ringera as the Director of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission.

Speaker Kenneth Marende gave in to a request to have the Committee on Implementation and that on Justice and Legal Affairs look into the matter that had been fronted by Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto who said the issue had raised serious concerns in the House. Mr Marende however said the findings of the committees may not be binding to the House.

“As to whether or not the matter that has been raised falls within the mandate of the two committees or any one of them, I will give my exhaustive position on Tuesday next week,” he said in his ruling.

Mr Ruto had asked the Speaker to allow the committee to scrutinise the gazette notice re-appointing Justice Ringera and offer legal interpretation.

“Mr Speaker, I wish to request that you direct that this particular gazette notice be committed to the committee on delegated legislation to see through and report back to the House within the next seven days as to its validity or otherwise,” he said.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo had opposed the move saying it would be illegal.

“I seek your ruling, Mr Speaker, on whether a committee of the House can sit in vain interpreting a schedule of an Act that is not subsidiary legislation,” Mr Kilonzo queried.

Committee of Delegated Legislation Chairperson, Nominated MP Amina Abdalla, told Parliament that she would be ready to present a report by next Tuesday.

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She said that her Committee and that of Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs had held joint sittings with the KACC Advisory Board members who had intimated to them that they would be overhauling the set up of the anti-graft management.

Earlier the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister had accused the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission Advisory Board of sleeping on the job and failing to timely recruit a Director.

Mr Mutula told a news conference on Thursday that despite knowing too well that Justice Ringera’s contact was about to expire the Board slackened in advertising for the post or recommending re-appointment. The Minister said in re-appointing Justice Aaron Ringera the President acted out of good will and the desire to see continuity in the commission.

“Being the leader, he is noticing that one week into the expiry of the term no advertisement has been made. The President has right to rely on reports the former board had made saying they have confidence in Justice Ringera,” he said.

Mr Mutula further blamed Parliament for failing to legislate criteria for reappointment of the Director and assistant directors, thereby leaving a loophole in the law. He blamed the House for overlooking this loophole in 2004 while debating the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

“Acting as a shadow Attorney General I advised Parliament that we address this but no one listened to me,” he claimed.

The law provides that a Director or Assistant Director can be re-appointed for a second term in office but does not state who should do that. The law however provides that such persons be appointed to such positions should be selected by the advisory board and recommended buy Parliament before appointment by the Head of State.

The unilateral decision by the President has angered Parliament, civil society and the American government. Mr Mutula lashed his wrath on the criticism saying it was unwarranted. He warned the American Ambassador Michael Ranneberger that he had no business trying to interpret the Kenyan law.

“I want to tell him to shut up. Let him come and talk to us where he thinks we can improve the law but tell us in a respectable way because we know what we are doing,” he said.

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The Minister has dismissed public and Parliamentary criticism over the President’s action maintaining that it was within the law and will remain as such.

“KACC does not belong to President Kibaki or Justice Ringera, but to all of us. At the very least block the salaries of the three directors or seize their vehicles but allow the staff at the commission to go on with their work,” he said.

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