2 November 2011

Kenya: MP Ongoro Steps Aside During Kin's Interview

Assistant minister Elizabeth Ongoro yesterday withdrew from the parliamentary committee vetting Otiende Amollo for the chair of the Commission on Administration of Justice. Ongoro said she had taken the decision to avoid a possible conflict of interest since Amollo is her younger brother.

Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee chair Abdikadir Mohamed said Ongoro could sit in the panel as an observer but would not take a vote. There was amusement in County Hall when Ongoro, who is Kasarani MP, took the microphone, looked at Amollo greeting him before announcing she was stepping down from the panel. She wished him all the best.

Amollo had indicated in his résumé that possible conflict could arise if his sister was to take a vote in approving his nomination by President Kibaki. Yesterday, Amollo appeared to have set one foot at the helm of the commission that takes over from the Ombudsman.

The ombudsman is tasked with receiving complaints from members of the public. Most MPs interviewing Amollo appeared to support him. He said that he will discharge his duties according to the constitution and will not take instructions from other quarters. The 40-year-old lawyer who served in the committee of experts that drafted the constitution of Kenya 2010, said if approved he will embark on publicising the role of the commission.

Amollo told MPs that the commission will have offices in all the 47 counties and even others in lower levels to receive complaints from the public. "Most of the complaints will most likely come from the counties as they are centres of devolution but I will ensure that we have structures to deal with them effectively," he added.

The committee also vetted Regina Gathoni and Sadia Abdikadir who are poised to become the other two commissioners if approved by the House. Abdikadir announced that the panel will take a vote on the suitability of the candidates and present the names in parliament today as required by the law. "The Act provides that the names are vetted and presented to the House within 21 days which lapse tomorrow (today)," the CIOC chair said.

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