16 February 2017

Kenya: Lawyers John Ohaga, Njeri Kariuki to 'Solve' Doctors Pay Talks Panel

Photo: Tonny Omondi/Daily Nation
Doctors from private hospitals protesting in Kisumu.

Nairobi — The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has appointed two mediators into a joint mediation panel with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) to lead talks between the government and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) with an aim of resolving the ongoing strike by doctors.

LSK President Isaac Okero on Thursday appointed John Morris Ohaga and Njeri Kariuki following Wednesday's directive by the Court of Appeal which tasked the society and the KNCHR to mediate talks between the union and the government following the release of seven union officials jailed on Monday for contempt of court.

In a statement, Okero described the two - who are also members of the LSK - as seasoned mediators saying their expertise will help revive stalled talks between the government and the striking doctors.

"We have full confidence in the mediation panel which is comprised of the very best professionals in the field," Okero said in a statement.

He expressed optimism that the quest by legal counsel representing the parties before the Court of Appeal will remain committed to resolving the crisis that has bedeviled the nation over the past 10 weeks.

"It is the commitment to seek a substantive resolution as expressed by the parties through their counsel appearing before the Court of Appeal that will form the best foundation for a solution to the crisis," he said.

LSK's Ohaga and Kariuki, will join Kagwiria Mbogori and James Mang'erere from the KNCHR who will set the ball rolling in a process that has been seen as the last hope to ending the impasse in the public health sector.

Following an inter-party consent entered by the lawyers representing KMPDU, Ministry of Health and Council of Governors (CoG) and adopted by the Court of Appeal , judges Wanjiru Karanja, Hannah Okwengu and Jamila Mohammed directed the mediation committee to give a progress report on the mediation process within seven days from the commencement date .

The seven KMPDU officials released are expected to facilitate negotiations though the mediation panel pending the hearing of an appeal challenging their sentencing to a month in prison.

Under the leadership of Mbogori and Ohaga, the seven doctors' union officials led by Chairperson Samuel Oroko and Secretary General Ouma Oluga, the panel will also seek to iron out other key concerns raised by the doctors other than their demands to have the 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement, which handed them a 300 percent pay hike, implemented.

The mediation panel begun its work Thursday.

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