, NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 21 – President Mwai Kibaki has summoned the first sitting of the National Assembly on March 28 at the main Parliament building from 9am.
A statement from State House said the president has also called the first sitting of the Senate to be held at Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Thursday as well.
“In appointing the first sitting of the two Houses, the Head of State invoked the powers conferred on him by article 126(2) of the Constitution.”
The inaugural sitting of Parliament comes amid changes in the way it is expected to transact business.
In what will be a break away from tradition, the newly elected MPs and Senators will be sworn in first by the Clerk of the National Assembly and Senate respectively, before electing the Speakers of the two Houses.
The clerks of the two Houses, Justin Bundi (Parliament) and Jeremiah Nyegenye (Senate) have already advertised the positions of the two Speakers ahead of the first sitting.
Bundi said the forms can be collected from his office main Parliament buildings from Friday, March 22.
Nyegenye said those interested in the Senate seats should pick the forms from his office at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, 1st floor.
Their offices will also be open on Saturday and Sunday. The forms must be returned by Tuesday, March 26 at 9am.
“The Standing Orders provide that those who intend to contest the position of Speaker must return the forms 48 hours before the election,” Bundi said.
In the past, the first order of business had been to elect a Speaker, who then administered the oath of affirmation to new lawmakers.
Once sworn-in and inaugurated, the new Speakers will preside over the election of the Deputy Speaker.
Kenneth Marende’s tenure as the Speaker of the National Assembly ends on the day the 11th Parliament convenes.
The Jubilee Alliance is considering fronting former Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed to face CORD’s Marende for the National Assembly Speaker’s post while URP chairman and former National Assembly Speaker Francis ole Kaparo is the front runner for the Senate with CORD still considering it choices.
The Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia in a circular sent to Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Constitution Implementation Commission and the Attorney General said the president plans to convene the new Houses on March 28 in accordance with the Constitution – which says a new House – shall sit not more than 30 days after the General Election.
“On the first day of the sitting, the first Order of Business will be Swearing-in of members and election of the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Speaker of the Senate,” Kimemia’s circular reads.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission gazetted all elected leaders last week on Friday as required by law.
Another feature expected to change with the new Houses is the popular ‘Question Time’.
Question Time in Parliament is when Members of Parliament put questions to government ministers (including the Prime Minister), which they are obliged to answer. It usually occurs daily while Parliament is sitting.
Instead, the queries filed by various MPs or Senators will be compiled into on file and forwarded to the relevant House departmental sitting, which will summon the respective Cabinet Secretary to address the issue.
The MPs who will have filed the questions will be allowed to participate in the committee proceeding and seek further clarification.
Unlike in the past the when Question Time seemed like the main business of the House, the sequence of the proceedings in the 11th House will be as follows; each day after Prayers and the Senate/National Assembly has been called to order, there will be the Administration of Oath, Communication from the Chair, Messages, Petitions, Papers, Notices of Motion, Statements and finally Motions and Bills.
On Wednesday mornings, which are known as Private Members day, the Majority or Minority Party or a MP/Senator belonging to the Majority or Minority Party, or a Committee shall have precedence over all other business in such order as the Rules and Business Committee shall ballot.
During the last House, Wednesday morning was set aside for Motions or Bills which had been originated by backbench MPs while the House transacted government sponsored business on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon.
The Senate which is expected to hold its sittings at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) will hold similar sessions to the National Assembly despite expectations that it will hold periodic sitting as a result of its deliberative mandate.
Senators will be expected to constitute 13 committees once the Senate is properly constituted.