MPs, Senate squabbles hurting democracy – ICJ

March 20, 2014 1:37 pm
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ICJ Executive Director George Kegoro said that the absence of cohesion prohibits democracy; efficiency and a people centred type of leadership/FILE
ICJ Executive Director George Kegoro said that the absence of cohesion prohibits democracy; efficiency and a people centred type of leadership/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – The International Commission of Jurists Kenyan chapter on Thursday called for cohesion between the National Assembly and the Senate, saying that their wrangles were slowing the formulation and implementation of laws in the country.

ICJ Executive Director George Kegoro said that the absence of cohesion prohibits democracy; efficiency and a people centred type of leadership.

“If Parliament is to become truly democratic there is need for procedural rules that will promote deliberation and consensus building in the decision making process as opposed to encouraging a majoritarian approach to the resolution of issues which is often divisive.”

“As such there is need for the two Houses to clarify their roles in the passage of legislation.”

“The two Houses need to negotiate and agree on how they will perform their roles, particularly where the Constitution does not stipulate which House has the primary responsibility of originating bills.”

Kegoro recommended that they establish a credible and enforceable ethics regime that is transparent and accountable to the public.

Speaking at the launch of the Parliamentary Watch Report, Kegoro advised the legislators to adhere to the code of conduct to enhance public trust and confidence in their governance.

“Codes of conduct do not solely control corruption but are a part of the wider integrity system.”

“The Members of Parliament should be cautious of how they relate in all aspects whether in or out of the House as they are a representative of their people and they are accountable for their actions and will be judged for them.”

“They need to formulate a code of conduct for the Senate and also harmonise the code of conduct for the National Assembly with the current Constitution.”

“About 80 percent of the Members of Parliament are not re-elected during the General Election. Besides training on the Standing Orders and the procedural rules of the House, MPs should be trained on the Code of Conduct which should be part of the primary rules of the House,” he further disclosed.

He advised the National Assembly and the Senate to develop a manual on the code of ethics.

He added: “the manual will elaborate on ambiguous provisions on the code to ensure that the members comply.”

Last month the Senate was accused of defiance after they proceeded to debate and pass a resolution of the impeachment of ousted Embu Governor Martin Wambora defying court orders that prevented them to.

“Even after the Governor obtained a court order to stop the process – in a remarkable act of impunity in similar fashion to the County Assembly – the Senate disregarded and disrespected the High Court. They proceeded to debate and pass a resolution to proceed with the impeachment process,” he added.

He said that though it was not in the commission’s place to decide whether to impeach or not, the manner in which the matter was being handled was unlawful.

“To knowingly disobey an order of the High Court is an assault on the rule of law and threatens the very basis of our constitutional order,” he warned.

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