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Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka escorted into the chambers. /CFM-FILE.

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Senate under pressure to deliver elusive revenue formula

NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 17 – After failing to resolve the elusive counties’ revenue-sharing formula for the ninth time, Senators on Monday formed a twelve-member team to build consensus.

The resolution was arrived at following a last-minute agreement on Monday night among the two rival factions wich have maintained hardline positions on which formula is suitable for the 2020/2021 financial year.

Senators proposed to serve in the committee include Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Mohammed Mahamud (Mandera), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi), Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni).

Others are Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Samson Cherararkey (Nandi), Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay), Anuar Loitiptip (Lamu), Moses Wetangula (Bungoma), John Nderitu (Laikipia) and Ledama Ole Kina (Narok).

Senators Sakaja and Wetangula were proposed as the co-conveners of the team and are on Tuesday expected to call for a meeting to set the ground rules for the discussions.

While acknowledging that the debate on the revenue formula had degenerated to be a divisive affair, Speaker Ken Lusaka urged the Senators to remain united so as to find a common ground.

Lusaka, who has been under intense scrutiny from Senators who always questioned his rulings on the matter, exuded confidence that a solution will be found.

“I urge members that let us remain united the way we have been and that even after we go through this I will ask the secretariat at an appropriate time to organize for a retreat so that we can bond because it is very important that we remain united as a House and move together,” he said.

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The unanimous decision to have the House adjourned followed a series of votes in the House that finally, through the intervention of Senator Sakaja, saw the House take a 30-minute break to agree on the way forward.

When the House appeared to be heading to an early adjournment, Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki’s motion for an adjournment over the arrest of three of their colleagues Steve Lelegwe (Samburu), Christopher Langat (Bomet) and Cleophas Malala (Kakamega) hit a snag after Senators tied on their vote.

29 Senators voted for the motion while another 29 opposed it, prompting Speaker Lusaka to invoke Article 122 (2A) of the Constitution that states that “on a question proposed for decision in either House – the Speaker has no vote; and in the case of a tie, the question is lost”.

It was after the verdict that the House moved again and voted to extend the House sitting until the conclusion of business on the third basis revenue formula for counties.

31 Senators voted to have the House conclude debate on the divisive debate while 28 voted against it.

House Minority Leader James Orengo who finally moved the adjournment motion called for sobriety in the future debate over the revenue formula.

“To create an enabling environment, it will now be upon your office to ensure that the process of probing why our colleagues were arrested is finalized so that as we reach next week there will be no cloud surrounding the debate,” he said. The three Senators were all freed on a police bond. Bomet’s Lang’at was being questioned over an oath he is alleged to have administered to youths in his backyard while Malala was accused of breaching the social distancing rule when he distributed sanitisers in home area.

House Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio lauded members for taking the new direction and challenged them to deliver in the next sitting.

“Let us not call a special sitting unless we are ready,” he said.

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The Senate House Security Committee has in the meantime issued fresh summons to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki and the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti to shed light on why the three Senators were arrested.

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