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6 ministers barred from parliamentary business

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – Six Cabinet Ministers were on Wednesday banned from conducting any business in Parliament for failing to turn up to answer questions in the House.

While issuing the sanctions, Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim termed the habit by the Ministers as unacceptable and accused them of not taking their responsibilities seriously. He directed them to explain to the House why they were not available to address members\’ issues.

"The business of this House is not a matatu business which waits for however long for the customer; the Chair directs that these Ministers and their assistants are not going to transact any business until the Chair is satisfied that there was good reason for both the minister and his assistant not to be here before the House," he said.

The censured Ministers are Otieno Kajwang of Immigration, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister George Saitoti, Amason Kingi who is acting in the Industrialisation docket, Youth Affairs Minister Paul Otuoma, Amos Kimunya of Transport as well as Lands Minister James Orengo.

Many questions went unanswered on Wednesday morning due to the Ministers\’ absence while other questions were dropped because some members were not in the House.

Mr Maalim hit out at the Executive and called on both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to ensure their ministers turn up in Parliament to answer questions raised by MPs.

Nyando MP Fred Outa had earlier sought the Speaker\’s ruling on the absence of Ministers saying that the Executive had repeatedly showed disregard for Parliament.

Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode\’s attempt to defend the Executive was shot down by the Deputy Speaker who told him that the government must take parliamentary business seriously.

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Mr Ojode said; "Mr Speaker it\’s heavily raining out there and I had to come in and answer a question despite all that."

"There are umbrellas, Mr Minister, what were umbrellas made for?" retorted Mr Maalim. "The Chair is aware that it is not prohibitive that your ministry cannot afford it (an umbrella)!"

On Tuesday, Speaker Kenneth Marende barred Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta or his assistant Oburu Odinga from transacting business in the House after they repeatedly failed to honour the delivery of a Ministerial statement.

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