Civil society tells Speaker to stand firm

February 21, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 – Five Civil Society organisations have backed Speaker Kenneth Marende\’s ruling that the nominations to four constitutional offices were unlawful and urged President Kibaki to respect it.

At a press conference on Monday, the activists accused President Kibaki of flip-flopping over the matter, pointing out that the Head of State had earlier committed to adhere to the verdict of Parliament.

After a meeting with the Prime Minister on February 7, a statement from the President\’s Press Service said:  "On the Issue of the nominations to fill State offices currently under consideration by Parliament, the two Principals agreed to respect the ongoing parliamentary process and its outcome."

On Monday, a joint statement read by Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director Muthoni Wanyeki said the Executive should respect the verdict of Parliament under the principle of separation of powers.

"We find it absurd that now since the decision of the Speaker did not favour the President, deference to the court (verdict) is the preferred option," she said.

Ms Wanyeki said "the shifting of goal posts in our view is not in the interest of the people of Kenya."
The President on Friday dismissed Speaker Kenneth Marende\’s ruling that his recent nominations to the offices of Chief Justice, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Controller of Budget were illegal, and declared that only the court could interpret the Constitution.

At a rare press conference at his Harambee House office, the Head of State maintained that he acted within the law in nominating Justice Alnashir Visram as CJ, Githu Muigai as AG, Kioko Kilukumi as DPP and William Kirwa as Controller of Budget.

The President said his actions had been vindicated by two parliamentary committees which after conducting hearings, had concluded that the nominations had been done within the law.

But the civil society organisations defended the Speaker saying: "Mr Marende demonstrated that he did not yield to interests and he acted within the law."

In his ruling on Thursday Mr Marende said President Kibaki did not carry out consultations with Prime Minister Raila Odinga as required by the Constitution and the National Accord in nominating the four office holders.

The President\’s Party of National Unity and its allies have indicated that they will fight to overturn the ruling when Parliament sits this Tuesday. Other members have even suggested censuring the Speaker for his verdict.

The activists however scoffed at these attempts by PNU and urged Kenyans to resist any moves to undermine public participation and the rule of the law.

"We urge all Kenyans to continue the quest and demand for an open, transparent and all inclusive constitutional implementation process," said FIDA Executive Director Grace Maingi.

Transparency International Executive Director Samuel Kimeu said: "The Constitution we promulgated requires that such positions be filled on merit, competitiveness and issues of integrity."

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