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Waters begin to calm for Ringera

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 2 – The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) Advisory Board on Wednesday appeared to soften its hard stance against the re-appointment of Justice Aaron Ringera as anti-graft Director.

After a five-hour meeting of the Board, Chairman Okong’o Omogeni told a news conference that the team will now seek audience with the President to “amicably sort out the matter.”

In the meantime Justice Ringera will continue to serve as Director and retain the hefty Sh2.5 million monthly salary after the Board suspended the signing of new contracts that would have reduced his salary to Sh1.6 million.

“We want to implore on the President on the importance of being seen to be complying with the law,” Mr Omogeni said in an evidently calmer mood compared to Tuesday’s uproar.

The Board had on Tuesday termed the President’s action as “an act of impunity” but emerged from the Wednesday meeting saying it resolved to “act responsibly and look at the best way forward on this matter.”

“The Board has also agreed to seek consultations with the Attorney General and the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister to know whether they were consulted in the appointments,” he added.

President Mwai Kibaki on Monday gazetted the reappointment of Justice Ringera for another five-year term while his two deputies Fatuma Sichale and Smokin Wanjala got another four-year extension each, attracting public uproar.

In the appointment the President quoted powers provided under section 8(4) and paragraph 3(2) of the First Schedule of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act. However the same law states that anyone appointed as Director or Assistant Director is to be selected by the KACC Advisory Board and approved by Parliament before appointment, a process the President is accused of by-passing this time round.

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Parliament has opposed the re-appointment and vowed to frustrate government business in the House. On Wednesday backbenchers again thwarted efforts by the executive to go on recess and demanded that the re-appointment first be revoked.

Backbenchers garnered 56 votes against the frontbench’s 36 putting off the six weeks recess.

“How can I go to my home in Mau when I know the law has been broken?” Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto queried.

“There is no question about Ringera’s merit,” Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabbir said.

Ministers James Orengo and Anyang Nyong’o joined backbenchers criticizing the President’s move and calling for its revocation. Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi however defended the President’s action saying that the law was silent on the reappointment.

 “According to us an appointment or a re-appointment is one and the same thing; there is no difference,” Mr Omogeni said on Wednesday.

Justice Ringera’s term and those of his deputies were set to expire on Monday next week.

Earlier in the day, and as a protest move, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs AbdiKadir Mohammed moved an amendment to the Appropriation Bill to cut off budget funding of the anti graft body.

The motion is yet to be allocated time for debate.

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