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Speaker now blocks nominees report

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim on Wednesday refused to allow the Legal Affairs Committee table their report on the controversial nomination of the Chief Justice, Attorney General, and the Director of Public Prosecution.

Mr Maalim ruled that the report could not be tabled since it was not presented to the Speakers office at least two hours before the House sitting as required by the Standing Orders.

He said he only became aware of the report about one minute before the committee\’s chairman Ababu Namwamba was to table it in the House.

"There was a landmark ruling that was made on a similar thing, so under the circumstances the Hon Namwamba it\’s not possible for the Speaker to approve the papers when he is on the chair, it has to be brought to his office so you will have to table this at another time after the approval," he ruled.

But MPs protested the ruling arguing that the matter was of national importance.
"Mr Speaker, I wish to bring to your attention as a member of that committee that we have had to grapple with very serious issues this morning and for that reason it\’s our desire that the report be tabled (at this time)," MP Olago Aluoch said.

"The country is being held in a state of tension, Mr Speaker, this is affecting the whole aspect of the country be it economic, social or even political stability Mr Speaker," pleaded Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale.

But Mr Maalim could hear none of that.

"We cannot bend the rules, the rules are the rules. So under the circumstances the Chair cannot allow these papers to be tabled, you are lawmakers and we make the regulations and standing orders very clear. The least you can do for this country is to respect your own rules," he emphasised.

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Mr Namwamba\’s team has been scrutinising the nomination of Attorney General, Chief Justice and Director of Public Prosecution following a dispute between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The committee has been divided over whether the nominations were done legally with the ODM MPs insisting that the process be done afresh while PNU MPs want the committee to proceed and vet the nominees.

Speaker Kenneth Marende on Tuesday ordered the committee to table its report on the scrutiny of the nominees to the three constitutional offices by 12.30pm on Wednesday after they failed to meet a second deadline.

The committee was initially supposed to table its report last Thursday but asked for more time to compile it.

When Mr Namwamba was called upon to table his committee’s report on Tuesday, he came with a fresh request to the House, asking to get more time to vet the individual nominees.

He was however rebuked by the Speaker Kenneth Marende, for failing to report to the House despite the fact that the issue has gripped the country.

"You must table a report one way or the other. Even if it is one sentence… even if it is a minority or majority report or both, that must be tabled," ruled the Speaker.

He added: This is a matter of grave national importance that is keeping the whole country anxious. The country is waiting with baited breath."

"We have our report ready but a matter has risen in the committee that has necessitated to seek the indulgence of the House to enable us consider the vetting of the nominees," Mr Namwamba pleaded.

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The Committee held numerous meetings last week but its retreat last weekend failed to produce a report as expected after divisions emerged among members.

On Sunday Mr Namwamba had indicated that the committee had failed to meet its Saturday deadline of finalising the report but said they hoped to do so on Monday.

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