Kenya: Leadership Crisis in Nairobi County After Sonko Graft Charges

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko is led into the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices in Nairobi on December 6, 2019.
9 December 2019

Nairobi — The Nairobi County Government was thrown into a leadership crisis following the arraignment of Governor Mike Sonko who faced over 30 corruption charges Monday.

Going by the precedent set in Kiambu and Samburu counties where Governors Ferdinand Waititu and Moses Lenolkulal were ordered to stay out of office until their corruption cases are heard and determined, it is clear Sonko will follow suit.

While the two counties are now run by Deputy Governors, Nairobi has remained without a Deputy for 18 months since the resignation of Sonko's deputy Polycarp Igathe.

Sonko, who was arrested on Friday, was charged with money laundering, bribery and other corruption-related charges, which he denied when he was arraigned before anti-corruption magistrate Douglas Ogoti who was set to rule on his bail application alongside 18 others charged with him. They include county government officials and contractors or suppliers accused of wiring kickbacks into the governor's accounts.

The Council of Governors Chairperson Wycliffe Oparanya has already indicated he will be seeking an emergency summit chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta to address the leadership crisis in Nairobi.

Oparanya, in a statement to newsrooms, said the council was monitoring the developing situation cognizant of the fact that Nairobi County does not have a Deputy Governor who would take over on an acting capacity in the event Sonko is barred from office.

"Following the arrest and detention of Mike Mbuvi Sonko the Council of Governors is monitoring and consulting widely on the unfolding situation," the statement dispatched Sunday afternoon read.

"We are, however, aware of the uniqueness of the County Government and therefore we shall reach out to H.E. The President to convene an emergency Summit to address the evolving situation."

In the absence of a governor, legal experts have argued that the Speaker of the County Assembly Beatrice Elachi can head the county for 60 days when an election can be called, but others say this can only apply in the case of the death of a governor and his deputy or if they are both declared bankrupt.

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