12 July 2015

Kenya: Uhuru Yet to Receive EACC Amendment Bill

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta is to "apply his mind" to the changes members of the National Assembly want made to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

At a press briefing on Sunday, State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said, "Parliament has not yet transmitted the instruments to the President for his assent."

But when they do, Esipisu said, the Head of State would give the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2015 careful consideration, "as is customary."

Careful consideration, he said, because the amendments if assented to, would see the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission and his Deputy removed from office.

The Office of the Ombudsman, through its Chairman Otiende Amollo, has already asked the President not to assent to the amendments arguing that they would only serve to weaken the anti-graft body.

In a full page newspaper ad on Saturday, Amollo argued the position that replacing the CEO with a more powerful Director General to fill a vacuum that would be created by the relegation of Commissioners to an advisory role was ill-advised.

Besides, he argued, such changes would require a referendum. "It would change the design of the EACC from that of a Commission as provided for in the Constitution to that of an Independent Office.

"Second, the terminology 'Director General' is not known in the language of the Constitution. In our view, such a fundamental change to the EACC cannot be done by legislative and would require a Constitutional amendment."

The challenges the Commission faced prior to and in the aftermath of President Uhuru Kenyatta's hand over of what has become popularly known as the #ListOfShame, he argued, was no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.

"Historical hitches in appointment, incompatibility of individuals or individual questions of integrity are not reasons to restructure," he argued.

In light of the uproar that followed the publicisation of the #ListOfShame - public servants under investigation by the EACC on suspicion of corruption -- majority of the members in the National Assembly on Thursday, also voted in favour of having the names of those under investigation by the EACC protected until charges are preferred in open court.

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