, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – Parliament will re-open in three weeks time – a month earlier than scheduled – to discuss the draft Constitution.
President Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday prorogued the House and announced that the new session would begin on February 23.
“The President proclaimed the new session of Parliament in exercise of the powers conferred on him by section 58 (1) of the Constitution of Kenya,” a brief statement from the Presidential Press service said.
Speculation has been rife that the Head of State could recall the House in an attempt to meet strict deadlines of the constitution review process. Last year Speaker Kenneth Marende called for the recall to enable the realisation of the deadlines.
According to the law guiding the review, the draft is expected to be laid before the House not later than February 26. The Committee of Experts received proposed amendments from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review (PSC) last Friday and is expected to consider them by February 19 before handing over a refined draft back to the select committee. The PSC will have a week to present the revised draft to the House for debate and adoption.
The prorogation of Parliament ends a session.
This is done by the President by means of a proclamation published in the Kenya Gazette. The House stands prorogued until the opening of the next session. During a period of prorogation (or recess), the Speaker remains in office and all Members of the House retain their full rights and privileges.
The principal effect of ending a session by prorogation is to end business. All government Bills that have not received Presidential Assent prior to prorogation cease to exist; committee activity also ceases. Thus, no committee can sit after a prorogation.
In order for government Bills to be proceeded with in a new session, they must be reintroduced as new Bills or they may be reinstated, if the House agrees to this. The Standing Orders provide for the automatic reinstatement of all items of Private Members\’ Business in a new session.
Committee work may also be revived either by a Motion in the House, or in committee, depending upon the nature of the study. Prorogation does not affect Orders or Addresses of the House for the tabling government reports required to be tabled by statute.
Requests for responses to committee reports or petitions are still valid following a prorogation. These continue in force from one session to another, but are ended by dissolution.