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Activists back Kibaki county appointments

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – A civil society group calling itself National Emerging Youth For Change has now backed President Mwai Kibaki’s controversial appointment of 47 County Commissioners.

The group held a peaceful demonstration on the streets of Nairobi on Friday before they handed in a petition at Harambee House asking the president not to back down on the nominees.

“We fully support the appointments as they are in line with the constitutional mandate of devolving power to the people at the grassroots,” the group’s spokesman Bradley Ouna said.

The petition also copied to Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said the group fully supports the appointments because they are in line with the president’s powers.

Ouna said the appointments were constitutional and form a basis for the formation of the county government.

“Your Excellency, we request you and your good office to remain firm and not allow any external pressure prevent us from having County Commissioners,” part of their petition states.

They said they will not allow the Judiciary to be used to frustrate “our constitutional will.”

“We the taxpayers will not allow the courts to use our taxes to undermine our sovereign will,” they said, in an apparent reference to a court case seeking to challenge the appointments.

On Wednesday, the High Court in Nairobi declined to suspend the appointments pending the hearing of a case filed by the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW).

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CREAW has filed an application seeking to quash the appointments, arguing they are unconstitutional.

They argue that the appointments by the president are in breach of the Constitution and contrary to the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, 2008.

They have accused the head of state of appointing the commissioners without taking into account competitive recruitment procedures, taking into account gender and regional balance, public participation and advertising.

So far three separate cases have been lodged to challenge the appointment of the County commissioners.

Politicians are also divided down the middle over the appointments, with those aligned to the President like Dagoretti MP Beth Mugo saying the Head of State had acted within the law.

She argues that Kibaki has not breached any law in the appointments because other government ministries like Education have already posted county educational directors.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa appeared before a parliamentary team on Tuesday and failed to give a satisfactory explanation on whether the appointments were justified. He instead asked for more time to respond to the matter.

The county commissioners were appointed on May 11, in what is seen as a foundation by the government to establish the county government as enshrined in the new constitution.

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A statement sent from State House Nairobi when the appointments were said the president had acted in line with Section 17 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.


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