, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 – Members of Parliament Alfred Keter (Nandi), James Gakuya (Embakasi North), Silas Tiren (Moiben) and Kangogo Bowen (Marakwet East) have been ejected as chairs and vice-chair of their respective parliamentary committees.
This is after Jubilee MPs in the respective committees unanimously passed a vote of no-confidence Tuesday to dethrone the four lawmakers who had defied their party orders to step down.
In the Labour and Social Welfare Committee whose Chair is the outspoken Keter lawmakers did not shy away to speak their minds.
Keter who was keen to influence his colleagues especially those in the Jubilee camp not to be swayed by their party leaders’ decision pleaded with the members to disregard the motion terming it as illegal and unconstitutional.
“Parliament is an independent body just like the Executive and those in Executive should not interfere with the operations of this committee. Let us not be part of a process that will be eroding the gains we have made as a Parliament. We are setting a very bad precedence for this House,” said Keter.
He complained how the Executive had taken a personalized approach on the matter to ensure he and his other three colleagues were removed from their positions.
“When Jubilee Party released a list of preferred nominees to occupy leadership positions in various committees I first though that it was their opinion but later I was surprised to find out that the list was actually a directive which the members were to follow to the letter,” said Keter.
He said that he could not understand why the Executive was using the regional balance card to see them dethroned from their positions.
“The elections were done and members chose their leaders. Members vote for individuals whom they believe are equal to the task and not because of region al balance,” said an agitated Keter.
For almost an hour emotions run high as the lawmakers were split about the issue, with others like nominated MP Wilson Sossion who were present during the meeting saying that the motion which was before them was reckless and urged members to strike it out.
“If we proceed with this motion we will be undermining the oversight role of this House. It is sad that some of us can allow to be influenced by other people yet we claim to be independent minded,” he said.
Sossion who made his position known said he had no problem with Keter’s leadership adding that the grounds for the motion of no-confidence against him were baseless.
“I have confidence that Keter will be able to steer this committee in the right direction. Members of this committee should allow him to work,” said Sossion.
Nominated MP David ole Sankok, mover of the motion of no-confidence against Keter said it was necessary for the members to eject Keter for the reason that regional balance was not applied.
“We need to fill the positions in question with members who were fronted by the party. Other committee leadership slots have been filled with designated members and by the virtue that Keter is holding this office it means that the question of regional balance was not taken into consideration,” said Sankok.
Despite the altercation and to the disappointment of some other members Keter was dethroned and Nominated MP Sankok was elected as interim chair to seat in the Liaison Committee panel.
Bungoma Woman Representative Catherine Wambilianga, who had been elected as Keter’s vice was not spared either.
SEE RELATED STORY: Four rebel Jubilee MPs ousted from heading parliamentary committees
On his part, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale defended the Jubilee Party’s decision to recall the four members saying it was taken in the interest of inclusivity and regional balancing.
The Garissa Township lawmaker said accusations that Jubilee lawmakers were being controlled by the Executive was false, saying President Uhuru Kenyatta was free to provide leadership to legislators under the Jubilee Party which he leads.
Duale said the Jubilee leadership in the House will stick to President Kenyatta’s directives and ensure House leadership positions are evenly distributed.
“We have brought back sanity, discipline and order to the Jubilee Party. We want every part of the country to be represented in the parliamentary committees’ leadership,” he spoke moment after the process was concluded.
According to Parliament Standing Orders, fresh elections for the four committees will be conducted in the next seven days.