NAIROBI Kenya, Dec 30 – The opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) suffered a setback on Tuesday after Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro thwarted an attempt to discuss the recently enacted Security Laws (Amendment) Act.
The House had convened for a special session after a number of opposition Senators led by Minority Leader Moses Wetangula petitioned the Speaker to recall the legislators to discuss the law that had been passed in the National Assembly amid acrimony.
However, Jubilee Senators challenged the debate of the motion, saying it would go against the spirit of separation of powers given that a challenge to the same law has been filed and is under consideration at the High Court.
The onslaught against Wetangula’s motion was led by Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki who urged the Speaker to disallow the debate and let the court process take its course. However, Wetangula countered with reference to proceedings in the 10th Parliament when Speaker Kenneth Marende had allowed discussion of matters that were already in court.
In his ruling, Speaker Ethuro said the debate may interfere with the case in court set to be determined on Friday and was against the Senate Standing Orders.
“The Marende rulings are fine but Standing Order 92 of the Senate is clear that the House can’t debate on a matter that is active in court, in which the ruling date has been given,” he ruled.
“Let us give the court opportunity to conclude the matter. This matter can still be revisited; we can still bring amendments to the law…therefore we cannot proceed with this motion.”
The Minority Leader challenged the ruling saying none of the Senators is a litigant in court.
Wetangula accused his Jubilee counterparts of frustrating the intended motion after a 3-hour discussion on whether to debate it.
“I find this a narrow minded attitude that will not help this country. You must live with the guilt that you will carry on for many years to come,” he retorted.
The Security Laws (Amendment) Bill) was assented to law by President Kenyatta on December 19 and amends 21 existing Acts of Parliament.
Wetang’ula and 15 other Senators who had petitioned the Speaker claim the legislation should have been brought to the Senate for concurrence because it has provisions which affect operations of the counties.
“We hold a strong position that this law, which also concerns counties, is fatal. It is even a constitutional fatality that the National Assembly leadership declined to ensure Article 110 (3) operates, and went ahead to pass the law,” said the Bungoma County Senator.
CORD, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and other civil societies have already moved to court to challenge the constitutionality of law arguing that it violates the right to fair trial, adding that the offences created under the Act are oppressive and unjustifiable.
CORD through their lawyer James Orengo (Siaya County Senator) said the law affects the right of every citizen to be a Kenyan by giving the Registrar of Persons powers to revoke national identity cards without following due process.
Justice George Odunga is due to rule whether to order the suspension of the law on Friday.