Friday, January 30, 2009



January 29 2009

Only chief mediator Kofi Annan can now prevent ministers and MPs named in the Waki list from being dragged to The Hague to face charges related to post-election violence.

Parliament on Thursday employed a technicality to block the government’s rush to beat Friday’s deadline of enacting a Statute for the Special Tribunal for Kenya and its entrenchment in the Constitution.

MPs said the radical decision was prompted by the constitutional crisis between Parliament and the Executive following the decision by President Kibaki to reappoint Mr Amos Kimunya to the Cabinet even though he had been censured by the House.

Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara (CCU) stopped the government in its tracks when he evoked rules of the House to block efforts to fast track the Bills on the Special Tribunal.

Mr Imanyara, who was supported by MPs Bonny Khalwale (Ikolomani, New Ford-K), Olago Aluoch (Kisumu Town West, ODM), Charles Kilonzo (Yatta, ODM-K) and Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i, ODM), rose on a point of order immediately after Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua had sought the House’s permission to reduce the maturity period of the Bills from 14 days to one day.

It is significant to remember that the Bills, which were published yesterday, could have taken 14 days to mature before they were debated on the floor of the House. Said Mr Imanyara: “We are not going to allow leave of the House to be granted.”

Make ruling

This prompted Speaker Kenneth Marende to make a ruling over the issue. He referred to Standing Orders Nos 98 and 99 on the period of maturity for published Bills.

While Standing Order No 98 sets the periods of maturity that different forms of Bills may go through before they are introduced in the House, Standing Order 99 states that for a Bill to go through the three stages in one sitting, MPs must grant leave.

Ruled the Speaker: “Mr Imanyara has the support of more than two members as required and does not require even the sympathy of the Chair. Therefore, leave of the House is not granted.”

By that ruling, the commitment of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to meet the deadlines of setting up the Special Tribunal for Kenya were thrown into disarray.

President Kibaki did not join other MPs in debating and passing the Bills at Parliament Buildings. He and Mr Odinga had committed to the Special Tribunal when they signed an agreement to establish it on December 17 last year.

They have since lobbied MPs to pass the Special Tribunal for Kenya Bill 2009 and the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2009 to beat today’s deadline of enacting the Statute for the tribunal and entrenching it in the Constitution, respectively.

Ms Karua said that debate on the Bills will resume next week and hoped that Mr Annan would not punish the government for a delay.

By Bernard Namunane, Dave Opiyo, Alphonce Shiundu and Caroline