, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19 – The National Assembly is next week set to take a two day break to give Members of Parliament the opportunity to join the nation in marking Pope Francis maiden visit to the country.
House Speaker Justin Muturi informed MPs that they will not hold sittings on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The Majority Whip may have to have a motion on Tuesday, to exclude the House from sitting on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26, for purposes of allowing members to go and welcome the Pope who will be visiting. The House will then meet on December 1, if the House so resolves,” the Speaker directed.
The Pope is expected in the country on Wednesday evening for a three-day visit.
Majority Coalition Whip Katoo ole Metito said he will present a motion to give effect to the resolution of the House Business Committee.
“Mr Speaker as you are aware, His Holiness, Pope Francis will be visiting Kenya from next week which is a historical moment that we are all looking forward to, in this regard, Honourable Members, we may be breaking during this important Papal visit,” he told the House.
The government has advised Nairobi residents to brace themselves for major disruptions during the Papal visit.
State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said residents should not imagine that the situation would be similar to that experienced when US President Barack Obama was in the country in July.
He said over a million people are expected to attend mass at the University of Nairobi and its vicinity on Thursday, November 26.
According to Waumini Communications Managing Director David Omwoyo, Nairobi has about 1.4 million Catholics, but he estimates the number of Catholics in Kenya could easily clock 14 million.
In the interest of manageable crowds therefore, he said the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Secretariat was working to only have a representative number come into the city from the various regions given Kenya has over 3,000 parishes.
The government recently announced it was considering whether to grant Kenyans a two-day public holiday to allow them celebrate the Papal visit.
Esipisu said the government is looking into whether employers can provide flexible schedules for their employees to be productive.
Twenty thousand officers drawn from the Kenya Police Service, the Kenya Prisons and the National Youth Service are among agencies mobilising for the event.
“I have to warn in advance that I cannot answer questions on security deployments, for obvious reasons, but in your mental map, please figure out a million people, possibly occupying every space from the University of Nairobi graduation grounds to Uhuru Park. Literally, covering the grounds from the Museum Roundabout to Haile Selassie Roundabout. That explains security deployment numbers,” Esipisu told a news conference.
Pope Francis will land in the country on November 25 and hold bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta as well celebrate Holy Mass and address several public meeting.
On November 26, up to 60 Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops from the Eastern Africa region are expected to attend the High Mass, additionally; there will be 9,000 priests, clergy and religious leaders at the Mass.
Twelve choirs from different parts of the country have been practising for High Mass and will come together to form Muungano Choir.