, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 1 – The Speaker of the National Assembly has directed the parliamentary Committee on Local Authorities to review concerns raised by President Mwai Kibaki in rejecting the County Governments Bill, and report its findings to the House in the next seven days.
While addressing Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Kenneth Marende noted that the president questioned the legality of the Bill as amended by MPs last week, saying that some of its provisions were in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution.
The president declined to assent to the Bill on Monday saying it should be amended so that it’s in sync with the Constitution.
“The House is required to consider and deliberate on the memorandum within 21 days upon receipt from His Excellency. I direct that the memorandum be referred to the local authorities committee to study and report to the House within the next seven days,” he said.
The MPs have the option of adopting the president’s recommendations in totality or in part before the Bill is resubmitted to him for assent.
On the other hand, the legislators could reject the recommendations but pass the Bill in its original form after garnering the support of 65 percent members.
“If the House rejects the recommendations, Standing Order 60 will apply. In such an incidence a resolution supported by votes of not less than 65 percent of all members, excluding ex-officio members, is required,” explained the Speaker.
Several MPs however raised critical concerns surrounding procedure noting that the Bill’s timeline had already expired.
Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale said there was need to clear the air on how to deal with Bills that have set timelines in the event that time runs out.
“We need to know whether Parliament can proceed in the manner that you have directed to renew the deadlines because the House committee to which you have referred the matter to, was operating within constitutional timelines which have gone,” he noted.
“Is it procedural to proceed as we are without first moving a motion to clear such a move?” he asked.
Government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo also reiterated the concerns before Marende announced that he would give direction on the issue next Tuesday.
Attorney General Githu Muigai also stirred further debate when he said that Parliament had the liberty to extend the shelf life of Bills, whether or not the timelines had expired, through an appropriate motion.
“This Parliament is the Supreme law making organ of Kenya and neither the Constitution nor any other law can deprive this Parliament the authority to reopen any question on the basis of time alone,” he said.
Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo however took him to task over the matter saying there were no such provisions.
“I am very surprised that such words can come from the Attorney General. We have the Constitution and the Standing Orders to guide the activities of the House so he cannot say that the House can operate outside the law,” he said.
The legislators also renewed their accusations against the Executive arguing that it had been delaying Bills and skipping parliamentary sessions debating crucial constitutional Bills.
Eseli Simiyu (Kimilili), Charles Kilonzo (Yatta), Abdi Nuh (Bura) said that the Executive had been bringing Bills at the last minute.
Marende however warned the Executive against pulling such stunts further announcing that he would give more directions on the issue the following Tuesday.
“I want to say this to the front bench that where you must make your contributions to legislations and motions known is in this House. The forum that you choose to express yourselves at, reasonable as you may appear, does not count,” he said.
“We hear you at funerals, in FM stations and TV stations but that is not good enough. You are man/woman enough to be elected to represent your constituency so come and do it here,” he stressed.