19 March 2019

Kenya: MPs Delay Recess to Vet Kenyatta's IG Nominee Hilary Mutyambai

The National Assembly has been forced to delay its scheduled short recess at the end of March in order to vet Mr Hilary Mutyambai for the position of Inspector-General of Police.

This follows President Uhuru Kenyatta's submission of his name to parliament on Tuesday.

The vetting is scheduled for next week and if approved for appointment, Mr Mutyambai will take over from Mr Joseph Boinnet whose four-year term ended last week.

President Kenyatta appointed Mr Boinnet the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Tourism ministry.

SPECIAL PROCESS

According to the Constitution, the vetting of the person of IG is one of a kind because it involves a joint sitting of the committees of the National Assembly and the Senate.

The National Assembly was expected to take a short recess from March 28. The development means that by the time the joint report is expected in the respective Houses - on April 2 - the MPs will be on recess and therefore unlikely to either approve or reject the nominee.

If Parliament fails to approve or reject the nominee within the required timelines, the Public Appointment (Parliamentary Approval) Act presupposes that the nominee is deemed to have been recommended for appointment.

It is because of this that National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi promised to engage the House Business Committee, which sets the agenda in the House, to alter its parliamentary calendar.

"I will be asking the HBC to propose a way forward with respect to the calendar of the House to ensure that the process is concluded within the statutory timelines," Mr Muturi said.

OVERSIGHT

Nevertheless, Mr Muturi said the joint vetting will be overseen by the Committee on Administration and National Security, alongside that on National Security, Defence and Foreign Relations of the Senate.

The law provides that the vetting and approval by parliament of state officers be undertaken within 21 days.

The days are counted from when the public is notified to submit memoranda on the nominee as well as the venue and time of the approval hearings.

"To facilitate the commencement of the deliberations, the counting of time with respect to the 14 days will commence when the public is notified in the usual manner, preferably on or before Thursday, March 21," Mr Muturi said.

"It is also advisable that the concerned committees expeditiously commence the process of the consideration of approval of the nominee to enable speedy conclusion within the set timelines."

THE LAW

The Constitution and the National Police Service Act provide that the IG is appointed by the President with the approval of parliament.

The law further provides that the President shall, within 14 days after a vacancy occurs in the office of the Inspector-General, nominate a person for appointment and submit the name of the nominee to parliament.

In the conduct of the joint sitting, the standing orders of each House provide that the chairpersons of the two committees co-chair the joint sittings and that the secretariat comprise of officers of the two Houses.

The quorum of the joint sittings will be the respective quorums of each of the committees as stipulated by the respective House rules.

As contemplated under the joint rules, unless a decision is reached by consensus, any vote to be taken in the joint sitting of the committees shall be by separate Houses.

This is meant to ensure that the numerical difference of the individual members representing the Houses in the joint sittings has no effect on the decisions of the joint sittings of the committees.

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