14 February 2018

Kenya: MPs in Heated Debate Over Security Dispute

Photo: Capital FM
Parliament in session.

The withdrawal of security officers attached to Nasa MPs was a subject of heated debate in the National Assembly Tuesday as the affected members claimed that they are being unfairly targeted by the Jubilee administration.

A total of 141 Nasa MPs last week sued the government for revoking their firearm licenses and withdrawing their security personnel.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Justin Muturi promised to have the matter addressed after Suna East MP Junet Mohamed officially alerted him claiming that MPs from the Jubilee side are getting preferential treatment.

'NO GUNS'

“The matter is being addressed and an appropriate communication will be issued,” Mr Muturi, the chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), which accords MPs privileges, told the House.

The withdrawal of Nasa MPs’ bodyguards and vehicles of their House leadership came after the January 30 ‘swearing-in’ of opposition leader Raila Odinga as the ‘people’s president’.

Some Nasa MPs including Simba Arati had his licenses to own a firearm revoked.

Mr Junet accused the executive of undermining the independence of the Parliament by using security forces to harass the opposition noting that all MPs are equal and must therefore be treated equally.

“The manner in which the removal was done was not good. It is very bad for a section of MPs to have security while others don’t have. The police have turned from doing utumish kwa wote (service to all) to utumishi kwa Jubilee (service to Jubilee),” Mr Junet, who is the Minority Whip in the National Assembly, said.

The MP got into trouble with his last remarks and was forced to withdraw and apologise.

By virtue of his office, Mr Junet is entitled to an official car fuelled by the taxpayer.

On Tuesday, he narrated how his vehicle was taken away right outside the parliamentary gate and taken to vigilance house, the headquarters of the National Police Service.

The cars driven by the House leadership including the two speakers are owned by the PSC. Why the vehicles were withdrawn and taken to the police headquarters remains to be explained.

“The kind of treatment the Nasa MPs are facing is different from that of Jubilee MPs, yet we are in the same House, governed by the constitution and the standing orders. Are we going back to the times when Parliament was being micromanaged by the executive?, ” he asked.

Interestingly, the Leader of Minority John Mbadi (MP Suba South), who is also affected, claimed that Jeremiah Nyegenye, the PSC secretary and Senate clerk, was not aware that the vehicles had been taken by police.

“Someone may not like Mbadi, but I hold a constitutional office. You may intimidate us by all means but we will continue to criticise Jubilee,” Mr Mbadi said.

Although it is not provided for in the law or the House rules, the need for MPs to be provided with bodyguards came in 2008 after then speaker Kenneth Marende wrote to the National Police following the killings of MPs Mugabe Were and David Too.

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