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They were on their own, Speaker Muturi disowns informal Somalia visit by 11 MPs

Muturi made the clarification on Tuesday through a communication from the chair conveyed to the House in session/FILE- PBU

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi says a visit to Somalia last weekend by some 11 legislators from the North Eastern region fell short of a parliamentary delegation threshold, and will not be referred as such.

Muturi made the clarification on Tuesday through a communication from the chair conveyed to the House in session.

Given fact that no official communication was made by the legislators, the Speaker said the delegation failed to meet the parliamentary parameters.

A parliamentary delegation, he said, is either fully or partially funded by the National Assembly. He also noted his office would have notified Somalia prior to the visit if that was the case.

Muturi’s official position on the matter came amid queries over who could have financed the trip during which legislators paid a courtesy call to President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

“Further, in terms of composition, a parliamentary delegation is constituted in a manner that reflects the different shades of political parties in the House, gender and regional balance among other considerations. In this regard, the alleged visit by the said group of Members of this House to the Republic of Somalia was not a parliamentary delegation,” he asserted.

Having traveled in their own personal capacities, the Speaker clarified Ahmed Kolosh (Wajir West), Ibrahim Abdi (Lafey), Rashid Kassim (Wajir East), Mohamed Hire (Lagdera), Omar Maalim (Mandera East), Bashir Abdullahi (Mandera North), Adan Haji (Mandera West), Kullow Maalim (Banisa), Adan Ali Sheikh (Mandera South), Dahir Mohamed (Dadaab) and Ahmed Bashane (Tarbaj) did not need clearance from his office or any other government officer.

He however noted that Standing Orders provisions require lawmakers travelling outside the country to notify the speaker’s office, a requirement Muturi said was for good order and courtesy.

Muturi cited an incident when some MPs travelled in a similar manner but found themselves in a situation requiring his “urgent intervention.”

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“I invite you, Honourable Members to ponder, in the event that a Member or Members of this House who have travelled out of the country incognito require assistance of these offices, how would assistance be availed?” he asked.

“I must acknowledge that majority of Members have always notified the Speaker of intended travels outside Kenya, whether in their public and private capacities.”

Over the last 3 years, the Speaker noted he’s received at least 700 notifications from MPs travelling outside the country, on their own capacity.

“Whereas there are no sanctions against Members who fail to inform the Speaker whenever they travel out of the country, I urge you to live up to the spirit of the Chapter Six of the Constitution, particularly Article 75 relating to conduct of State Officers whether in public or official life, in private life or in association with other persons, and the oath of office that you all took,” he said.

The 11 MPs who were briefly held at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on their return on Sunday, March 1 said they met Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed over the worrying insecurity situation in north eastern counties bordering Somalia.

A day after their mysterious visit, a daylong gunfight between Jubbaland and Somali forces ensued causing panic at the boarder as dozens of people flee their homes in Mandera County on the Kenyan side.

The MPs hurriedly called for a press conference, where they said their concerns on insecurity in the region were valid.

“We have been vindicated,” the caucus said.

Details of their meeting with the Somali President remained scanty and a source of controversy.

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Speaker Muturi urged them to live true to their oath, where they committed to “bear true faith and allegiance to the people and the Republic of Kenya,” and urged them to remain patriotic, transparent and accountable to the nation.

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