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Marende hints he may declare nominees illegal

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 10 – The Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende has hinted that the court ruling declaring President Kibaki\’s judicial nominations illegal could have a bearing on his eagerly awaited decision next week.

Mr Marende told the House on Thursday that although there was a separation of powers between Parliament and the Judiciary, the decision by the court was binding to the nation.

He was quick to remind the House that the High Court had ruled with finality that the nominees were unconstitutional.

"It must be noted that it is a binding decision of the court and unless vacated by the court or by an appellate court, it might have a bearing on the outcome of the processes undertaken in this House," he emphatically said.

In his ruling Justice Daniel Musinga last week declared the nominations unconstitutional and said President Mwai Kibaki violated the Constitution in the appointments including ignoring the gender balance requirement.

Justice Musinga directed that no State organ processes the names, until the case filed by a number of NGOs objecting the nominations is finally determined.

The Speaker dismissed a petition by Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch to stop debate on the matter currently under the investigation by two parliamentary committees arguing that the matter in court had not proceeded to full hearing, to warrant enforcement of the sub-judice rule.

"The orders of the court are not addressed to this House and were not intended to and have no effect on the exercise by this House of its constitutional House or its committees," added the Speaker.

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He said it was wrong for anyone to stop Parliament from debating the matter of such national importance that had attracted enormous national debate.

"In a matter such as this that has experienced extensive coverage and discussions in the streets it will be odd indeed if some rule in our standing orders could be construed as making the National Assembly as the only place that the matter could not be discussed," he said.

"No one outside Parliament – not the Executive – tells Parliament in a compulsive manner what to do or not what to do; When to do it and how to do it."

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have been locked up in a dispute over the nomination of Alnashir Visram as Chief Justice alongside Githu Muigai as Attorney General, Kioko Kilikumi as the Director of Public Prosecutions and William Kirwa as Controller of Budget.

The PM has accused the President of making the nominations unilaterally while the President has maintained "sufficient consultations" took place. While the President sent the controversial list of names to Parliament the, PM sent a counter protest letter saying he was not consulted.

The Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs is the evaluating three judicial nominees while the Committee on Trade and Finance is evaluating the nomination of Mr Kirwa.

Mr Marende referred the matter to the two departmental committees with a mandate to evaluate whether the Constitution was followed.

Earlier on, the Speaker had agreed to extend the mandate of the two committees until Tuesday next week to enable them finalise their reports.

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