Kenya: Obado Ouster a Do-or-Die Affair as Migori MCAs Resume Sittings

Police are pictured around the Migori County Assembly premises ahead of the tabling of a motion to impeach Governor Okoth Obado.
8 September 2020

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party is piling pressure on members of the Migori County Assembly to impeach Governor Okoth Obado.

ODM has threatened to push for dissolution of the county--which would see the MCAs lose their seats as well--if the other two options of impeachment and persuading the governor to resign fail.

Dissolution, a laborious process that involves a commission of inquiry and presidential approval, is viewed as ratcheting up the pressure on MCAs who resume sittings today to kick start the impeachment process.

ODM has 41 members -- enough to send Mr Obado home -- but reports suggest it's not a done deal yet amid claims some are reluctant to support the motion as they have done business with the county government. On Monday, ODM national chairman John Mbadi said the party had asked Mr Obado to resign as the first option.

Mr Mbadi added that, should he stay put, the party had instructed all the 41 MCAs to support his impeachment to ensure the motion secures at least 38 votes needed to pass. However, should efforts to remove Mr Obando fail, the party is considering pushing for the suspension of the county government altogether.

Impeachment

According to impeccable sources within ODM, the push for dissolution is meant to drive the MCAs to do all they can to "ensure the impeachment is successful."

According to Article 192 (1) of the Constitution, the President may suspend a county government in an emergency arising out of internal conflict or war; or in any other exceptional circumstances. Article 192 (2) states that a county government shall not be suspended under clause (1) (b) unless an independent commission of inquiry has investigated allegations, the President is satisfied that the allegations are justified, and the Senate has authorised the suspension.

The suspension should last only 90 days after which elections are held. Assembly majority leader Ken Ouma said he would reveal the plans to the MCAs upon the resumption of sittings and the journey to remove Mr Obado from office shall officially start.

The Speaker must clear the motion once satisfied that the sponsor has secured the requisite signatures in its support (19) and that there are sufficient grounds for the removal of the governor.

The House Business Committee will then schedule the day for debating the motion. Some MCAs told the Nation that after a consultative meeting that the motion could be delayed citing threats of violence.

"Youths have been hired by individuals opposed to the removal of Governor Obado to cause mayhem during proceedings at the county assembly," said a ward rep who requested anonymity.

But the MCAs said the motion would be tabled before the end of the week once proper security arrangements have been put in place. Other sources alleged that the plot against Mr Obado is so elaborate that "it also has the backing of the state."

Investigate allegations

"We are confident the impeachment will go through but if push comes to shove, an independent commission of inquiry shall be put in place to investigate the allegations and make recommendations to the President,"said an ODM insider.

Nyatike MP Tom Odege differed with his parliamentary colleagues from the county and backed Mr Obado's ouster. He said the county government "remains a curse rather than a blessing to the people of Migori."

Mr Obado landed in trouble with his party following corruption charges that prompted a court to bar him from accessing his office. The governor is also on trial for the murder of a university student, Sharon Otieno.

If the impeachment motion is backed by a two-thirds majority during a vote, the impeachment proceedings will be referred to the Senate.

Should the Senate uphold his impeachment, Deputy Governor Nelson Mahanga, who had been away from office for over a year in 2018 reportedly after falling out with his boss, would take over for the remainder of the term.

Additional reporting by Ian Byron

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