NAIROBI, Kenya, May 9 – The Kenyan Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) now says the standoff afflicting the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs needs to be resolved to hasten the implementation of the Constitution.
Chairman Albert Kamunde said on Monday that the committee is unable to effectively carry out its parliamentary mandate owing to the stalemate.
"They scrutinise Bills which are then presented for debate before the House and therefore if this committee is not sitting, then it means that they are not able to look at the Bills before they are taken before the floor of the House," he said.
Once Bills are presented to the House for the First Reading, they are sent to the relevant departmental committee which then presents a report within 10 calendar days for the second reading and debate.
"The time specifications for the implementation or the enactment of the law are specifically stated. You are looking at the legislation on land, elections, Independent electoral and boundaries commission," he said.
He urged political leaders to put aside their differences and sort out the disagreement for the sake of the nation.
"If there is any political problem, let the political leaders get a political solution because Kenyans are not interested in the political games. They are interested in the full implementation of the Constitution," he stated.
"I would therefore urge that the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs to continue doing its work."
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party last week withdrew its five members to the committee over the ongoing leadership row.
Party Secretary General Anyang Nyong\’o wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly communicating the withdrawal and calling for a meeting to resolve the wrangles.
Prof Nyong\’o said the ODM committee members felt that they would not be able to resolve their differences with coalition partners Party of National Unity (PNU) alliance and accused its rival of frustrating the implementation of the Constitution.
The ODM Secretary General said that the leadership and composition of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee and that of the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee were negotiated between the coalition partners in the context and spirit of the National Accord.
The ODM statement came just moments before a scheduled meeting of the besieged committee which deals with Constitutional affairs, the administration of law and justice, public prosecutions, elections, ethics, integrity and anti-corruption and human rights.
The committee was scheduled to meet over the wrangles and then report to the Parliamentary Liaison Committee.
Prof Nyong\’o also alleged that a \’coalition of impunity\’ was employing delaying tactics in drafting legislation for the implementation of the Constitution and attempting to hold Parliament hostage to extraneous issues so as to waste precious debating time.
The party has six seats on the Committee which are occupied by: Ababu Namwamba, Millie Odhiambo, Isaac Ruto, Sofia Abdi and Olago Aluoch but it donated one seat to the PNU Coalition that was filled by Amina Abdalla in order for the committee to meet the one-third gender balance provision.
PNU have five positions composed of MPs Njoroge Baiya, Abdikadir Mohammed, Eugene Wamalwa, Mutava Musyimi and George Nyamweya.