Kenya: MPs' Fury Over 'Gravy Train' Report

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Speakers Justin Muturi, National Assembly, and Kenneth Lusaka, Senate, and Chief Justice David Maraga arrive at parliament in Nairobi for the President's State of the Nation address, April 4, 2019.

"Strange rage that betrays collective guilt" is how ODM leader Raila Odinga described MPs' response to reports that Kenya had sent 85 MPs, senators, ward representatives and parliamentary staff to a legislative conference in the US.

The MPs demanded an apology from the Nation and Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi is to rule on the demands by the MPs, led by Majority Leader Aden Duale, after the Nation ran the exclusive report.

Mr Odinga challenged Parliament to come clean and explain who travelled to the US at the expense of the taxpayer.

"The information that the Daily Nation published is in the hands of several people, locally and abroad, who out of pain for our country, felt the need to put it out if that can help stop the culture of waste and living large at the expense of taxpayers that has become the mode in our legislatures. I am one of those with whom this information was shared by a section of the very organisers of the conference," Mr Odinga said in a statement to newsrooms.

The demand came even as the Nation learnt that two MPs did not travel due to visa problems.

Credible sources in Parliament told the Nation that Speaker Justin Muturi was egged on to attend because of the size of the Kenyan delegation.

"The Speaker was persuaded to travel by the organisers who insisted such a huge delegation has to be led by a substantive person. The organisers were of the view that if the Speaker did not travel, the rest of the organisation should not," our source said.

This is the reason, the source said, Mr Muturi arrived in the US on Sunday, three days after most of the Kenyan delegates had arrived, and he is to cut short his trip and return Thursday.

Some international organisations involved in the summit raised concern over the huge number of Kenyans, who comprised the largest delegation.

On Wednesday, Mr Odinga praised the Nation for highlighting the wastage, saying: "It is misuse of power for the National Assembly to assume that it is beyond scrutiny, and even worse for the institution to pretend that it can intimidate the media into abandoning the watchdog role that it is constitutionally assigned to play."

The meeting ends Thursday.

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