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Kibaki rejects MPs’ provincial administration plan

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 27 – President Mwai Kibaki has declined to assent to the controversial County Governments Bill as amended by Parliament last Thursday, arguing that it is unconstitutional.

The president says he declined to give assent to the law since it transfers the stipulated functions of the national government to the county government.

Through a statement sent to newsrooms on Monday, the president argued that the amendments made by MPs during debate on Thursday stripped the national government of its constitutional mandate to restructure the provincial administration within the stipulated timelines.

The president further noted that MPs transferred security functions of the national government to the county government, further contravening the Constitution.

“The Bill deprives the National Government of its constitutional mandate granted under section 17 of the Sixth Schedule to restructure the provincial administration within a period of five years to accord with and reflect the devolved government, whose process is ongoing,” he observed.

He also revealed that he had already written a memorandum to the National Assembly seeking appropriate amendments to the Bill, which held a February 27 assent deadline.

“His Excellency has therefore forwarded today a Memorandum to the National Assembly proposing appropriate amendments for consideration to ensure the Bill accords to the Constitution,” read the statement.

Members of Parliament had proposed that provincial administrators including District Commissioners, Division Officers and Chiefs, report to County governors so that they could be absorbed into the new county systems.

However the Bill has no provisions for Provincial Commissioners.

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On the other hand, the Executive maintains that it is unconstitutional for such officers to report to governors due to the vested political interests.

“The government is committed to the full implementation of devolution and is determined to ensure effective legislation is enacted to that end,” stressed Kibaki’s statement.

Concerns surrounding the fate of provincial administrators have cropped up several times in the past, with some quarters arguing that such positions were scrapped by the new law.

However MPs argued that setting them out under the county governments would give them a place in the new order and also ensure that the uncertainty surrounding their fate was determined.

Even though he declined to assent to the County Governments Bill, the President signed the Transition to Devolved Government Bill and the Intergovernmental Relations Bill into law. The laws are also aimed at facilitating devolution.

Parliament has in the past accused the Executive of delaying key Bills and using the House as a rubber stamp.

Last week MPs extended the timelines of three land Bills by two months saying the laws needed additional time for proper scrutiny.

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