Parliament resumes sittings next week after two-month Christmas break

A general view is seen of a special Parliamentary session in Nairobi. Photo/REUTERS
FILE PHOTO | A general view of a special Parliamentary session in Nairobi. Photo/REUTERS

Members of the National Assembly and Senate resume their sittings on Tuesday, February 12 after a two-month Christmas recess.

Other than the rigorous budget making process, lawmakers return to an overflowing legislative in-tray, in a year where key national activities such as the population census will be conducted.

With the 2018/19 financial year on its last leg, top on the list of activities for the MPs is preparing the 2019/2020 budget, which is the third last for President Uhuru Kenyatta in his second and final term in office.

“We expect the Finance Minister to table the budget making document known as the budget policy statement that will outline in summary the 2019/2020 budget highlights,” Majority Leader Aden Duale told Citizen TV on Saturday.

Also in the parliamentarians’ in-tray is the long standing row over the composition of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). For a commission that began as a 7-member team, only three commissioners remain in office, following the resignation of Dr. Roseline Akombe in October 2017 and the unceremonious exit of Connie Nkatha, Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya in April last year.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has neither acknowledged their resignation nor declared the four slots vacant.

But there is a legal deficit that the August House must fill when members return for the 3rd session of the 12th parliament.

“For the rest of the commissioners to be put in place, there must be a legal framework, as of today there is no such framework. The last selection panel became redundant after the last election,” said Duale.

National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee headed by William Cheptumo has been working on a proposed legislation, that will outline a mechanism of picking a selection panel that will recruit new IEBC commissioners.

The panel that recruited IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati and his colleagues comprised representatives from the main religious bodies, but critics have called for a more inclusive team with some politicians demanding that political parties share out IEBC commissioners’ slots, based on their parliamentary strength

“We expect the Justice committee to engage all players including political parties to come up with a that legal framework,” added Duale.

During the corruption conference at the Bomas of Kenya a fortnight ago, President Kenyatta instructed Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki to craft a proposed law that will lock out public and state officers from engaging in private business.

The AG was also directed to prepare a bill, with provisions compelling lawyers to avail to investigators details of confidential client accounts that they hold if and when required.

Being a new session of parliament, the president will pick a date when he will address the nation from parliament, to among other things, outline his government’s legistlative agenda.

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Story By Francis Gachuri
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