Dissolve Parliament, civil society says

November 28, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 28 – Civil society organisations advocating for the implementation of the new Constitution now want Parliament dissolved following its failure to establish two crucial commissions in accordance with timelines laid out in the Constitution.

National Civil Society Council Spokesman Benji Ndolo claimed that the culture of horse-trading and politicking was to blame for the delay in meeting the 90-day deadline to form the Commissions on Implementation of the Constitution and that on Revenue Allocation.

"If this deadlock in Parliament is not resolved in 72 hours, to put the country back in gear and on solid ground towards implementation of the adopted Constitution, Parliament must be immediately dissolved and all members sent packing,” he said.

"If they cannot agree on the way forward because of ODM/PNU struggles which have now become so stale. Let them step away and will find new leadership."

Article 25(1) of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution requires both the CIC and the CRA to be constituted within 90 days after the effective date. With August 27, 2010 as the effective date, the deadline was Friday, 26 November, meaning that Parliament’s special sitting on Thursday night was the last opportunity to honour the constitutional timescale.

This failure by Parliament to beat a constitutional deadline triggered summary conclusions that the House had violated the Constitution and thrown the country into a monumental crisis.

The civil society groups said that this will set a bad precedent which will encourage laxity in meeting set deadlines by other constitutional organs.

"If we start missing deadlines and timelines what is to stop the Attorney General or the Chief Justice from claiming that we are hounding them out of office, yet you could not stick to the first timelines. This is beginning of a lot of confusion it goes against the spirit of implementing the Constitution," he said

Parliament has two options as provided in Article 261 that would address any delays in enacting the raft of implementation legislation in Schedule Five. This article offers a two-pronged option.

One, hands Parliament the mandate to extend, in “exceptional circumstances certified by the Speaker”, the specified legislative deadlines by no more than 12 months through a two-thirds majority resolution.

Two, it permits members of the public to seek judicial intervention requiring Parliament to act, failure to which the Chief Justice may advice the President to dissolve Parliament.

The country was on Thursday plunged into a constitutional crisis after Parliament rejected a list of nominees to two key commissions on the implementation of the new Constitution.

The move by the MPs saw the Government miss Friday\’s deadline for gazetting the names, throwing the implementation of the new laws into a crisis.

MPs said the list for the implementation committee lacked regional balance and said it should be returned to the principals.

The formation of one of the first commissions under the new Constitution could be delayed further after a parliamentary committee rejected a nominee of the Party of National Unity.

The Finance, Trade and Planning Committee rejected Amina Ahmed, who had been nominated to the Commission on Revenue Allocation, in a report tabled in Parliament hours before debate on the list began.

The committee found that Mrs Ahmed “lacked the level of knowledge and expertise required for the position” and should therefore be replaced.

The team asked PNU, which nominated her, to appoint somebody else to replace the banker, who is currently working as a consultant for an audit and management firm.

Ms Ahmed holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and French and has 22 years’ working experience in banking.

The committee approved the rest: Micah Cheserem as chairman and Prof Raphael Munavu, Prof J.H. Kimura, Prof Wafula Masai, Mr Meshack Onyango, Mrs Rose Bosibori Osoro and Ms Fatuma Abdulkadir as members.


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