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MP’s office locked, staff withdrawn as plot to punish CORD takes shape

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2016

By Alphonce Shiundu and Roselyn Obala
Updated Saturday, April 2nd 2016

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi’s office has been locked and his bodyguards withdrawn following his protests in the National Assembly during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s State of the Nation address on Thursday.

As a result of this picketing, which Speaker Justin Muturi has ruled was against the Standing Orders, Wandayi’s parliamentary staff were also sent home.

Wandayi, who was suspended until February next year, will only be paid his salary (Sh535,000), but will miss out on all other allowances and privileges.

“He will not lose his seat. He will remain an MP. But he will be suspended. He can’t even go to the Constituency Development Fund office,” the Speaker told The Standard on Saturday. Muturi said the suspension for the rest of the session means all privileges allocated to an MP are usually withdrawn.

These actions followed reports that Jubilee MPs were plotting stiff sanctions against their opposition colleagues who interrupted President’s State of the Nation address.

The ruling coalition MPs now want to kick out two vocal CORD legislators from their plum jobs. Jubilee’s targets are Tom Joseph (TJ) Kajwang’ (Ruaraka) and Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay).

The majority side in the House wants Wanga out of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) and Kajwang’ out of the Speaker’s Panel. They argue that the two flouted the House rules, abused the trust of their colleagues and “lowered the dignity and honour” of the House.

‘Illegal orders’

Jubilee, which has a majority in the House, also wants all the MPs who remonstrated as they walked out on the orders of Speaker to face the Powers and Privileges Committee and be punished for “gross misconduct”.

But CORD MPs told The Standard on Saturday that the Speakers were biased, and that Jubilee interfered with parliamentary protocol to ensure Opposition leaders were sidelined.

They accused Speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Ekwee Ethuro (Senate) of “selective” administration of House business.

“Parliament was part of the planning of this poor process. The CORD leaders in the National Assembly, who were required to rein in on their members, were not allocated seats. Our members are our subjects yet we were forced to sit on undesirable vacant seats at the back,” said Jakoyo Midiwo, the Deputy Minority Leader in the National Assembly

The Opposition MPs termed Standing Orders 111, invoked by Muturi to kick Wandayi out of Parliament, as unconstitutional, arguing that House rules cannot deny the people of Ugunja Constituency representation for a whole year as the Constitution is Supreme.

They accused Muturi of failing to be impartial in undertaking his constitutional work, especially when he ordered MPs from “one community out of the chamber for whistling and ignored others”.

The MPs who remonstrated after the Speaker threw them out will face the disciplinarian committee as House rules require orderly withdrawal.

Majority Leader Aden Duale (Garissa Town) and Deputy Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East) told The Standard on Saturday yesterday that they will not agree to have Kajwang’ sit in for the Speaker or his deputy Dr Joyce Laboso.

They also said they would not allow Wanga to make decisions in the PSC — Parliament’s top most administrative organ.

“TJ and Wanga have not only abused their own positions, they have also abused the trust bestowed on them by the rank and file of the National Assembly,” said the Majority Leader yesterday.

Washiali said Wanga and TJ had been picked to serve as an example that those trusted with leadership offices in Parliament had to act “in a dignified manner”

“We will be doing it to safeguard the rules and dignity of the House so that nobody else in its top leadership breaks the rules they are supposed to obey and enforce. They embarrassed us as lawmakers, they embarrassed the institution of Parliament. They cannot get away with it!” said the Deputy Majority Whip.

Duale said the ruling coalition will ask the Speaker to write to CORD to send a replacement for Kajwang’.

“It is not just the Jubilee side… We will not agree to have TJ preside over House sittings. He has no business enforcing the rules and the Standing Orders on the rest of the membership of the House when he breaks the rules with impunity and even defies the Speaker,” said Duale. .

Washiali insisted that Kajwang’, having been “openly passionate and biased to one side cannot claim to be impartial”.

“The Standing Orders is the Bible for MPs. What use is it for him to be presiding when he doesn’t even respect the rules of engagement? It is like appearing before a judge who is already compromised,” said Washiali

Presidential tribunal

While the removal of Kajwang’ from the Speaker’s Panel is a less tiresome, even easy, process, that of Wanga from the PSC will require a petition to Parliament, a processing of the petition in the House and then a vote for a tribunal by the President, who sat and watched as Wanga protested.

“This is the second time Wanga has abused the dignity of the House and the integrity of the position bestowed upon her. Her behaviour during the passing of the security laws and yesterday are not in tandem with the position she holds. She has abused that position and I am sure an MP or a member of the public will file a petition to deal with her,” said Duale.

For CORD lawmakers, the Speaker was out to drive a narrative against MPs from one community.

“Why didn’t the Speaker order Irshad Sumra (Embakasi South) and Timothy Bosire (Kitutu Masaba) out of the Chamber? He made it look like a Luo affair and he succeeded,” said Midiwo.

“Shame on the Speaker. The entire opposition blows whistles and makes catcalls then he carefully throws out only Luo MPs to drive a narrative. If the Speaker had followed the standing orders then he should have thrown out the entire opposition,” Senator Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) said of Muturi on Twitter.

Nevertheless, Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) questioned the rationale of Muturi to resort the Standing Order 111, when he never used the same during the passing of controversial Security Amendment Law yet MPs even fought.

“Picketing can be done in whichever form and it’s not limited to the members of the public alone. We have a pure presidential system, it is only during the State of the Nation address when MPs have an opportunity to express their objection in the presence of the President, Deputy President and the Cabinet,” stated Kilonzo Junior.

Though they admit Ethuro was a bit reluctant to order Senator Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay) out and instead turned a blind eye on the behaviour of Senator Mike Sonko (Nairobi).

Senator Kilonzo Jnr in fact contended that it is not an unusual occurrence, since the people’s representatives were making a point that “constituents are not happy

End
Standard news Kenya

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