Kenya: Parliament, AG Unite to Fight Maraga Advisory Amid MPs' Fury

25 September 2020

The National Assembly and Senate Speakers held crisis talks with the Attorney-General on Thursday, amid a raging debate on the advisory to dissolve Parliament.

This came as High Court judge Weldon Korir granted temporary orders stopping President Kenyatta from acting on Chief Justice David Maraga's advisory to dissolve Parliament for failure to enact the two-thirds gender rule.

And, as the two sides coalesced into the marriage of convenience, it emerged that all was not well in Parliament as lawmakers, mainly sen-ators, are unhappy with the manner in which the two Speakers have handled the dispute, leading to the CJ's drastic advisory that they be sent home.

Discuss way out

The lawmakers are angry that the two speakers have been in back-and-forth communication with the CJ on the issue that was never brought to the attention of either House.

It's this anger that reportedly prompted Thursday's meeting involving Speakers Justin Muturi and Kenneth Lusaka and Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki to review the advisory and discuss the way out of the legal logjam the two arms find themselves in.

Read: Uhuru faces limited options on Maraga call to dissolve Parliament

During the one-and-half hour meeting at the National Assembly boardroom, it was agreed that the court action against the advisory should be pursued.

Details scanty

Apart from the Speakers, others who attended the meeting that began at 9:30am to 11am were National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya, Minority Leader John Mbadi and Solicitor-General Kennedy Ogeto.

Mr Mbadi and Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr confirmed that, the meeting took place. However, Mr Mbadi would not be drawn into details. He said it was up to the House leadership to communicate the outcome of the meeting to the public.

While the details were scanty, the Nation learnt that the AG told the meeting that he is drafting a legal opinion for transmission to the Presi-dent that will inform whatever decision the President will eventually take.

The two speakers and the AG have been on one side of all the suits filed in the High Court by different groups as they sought to pile pres-sure on Parliament to implement the two-thirds gender rule.

'Kamukunji' meeting

One of the options the meeting discussed was to seek the High Court interpretation of the advisory. "The Attorney-General wanted to know the opinion of Parliament on the CJ advisory and requested for collaboration over the matter once it goes to court," the source said.

At a 'Kamukunji' meeting held on Tuesday, senators engaged the Speaker in a heated argument, accusing him of having engaged with the CJ on the issue but not informing them even though the issue was of concern to them.

In his advisory, Mr Maraga recounts how he had written to the two speakers in June 2019 requesting for a report in line with section 261 (6) (b) on their compliance with Justice Mativo's order. The two speakers wrote back to Mr Maraga, but the senators are concerned that Mr Lu-saka never communicated the same to the House for consideration even though the mandate of enacting the laws was theirs and not the Speaker's.

In the letter, the speakers recounted to the CJ efforts Parliament had unsuccessfully made to comply with the obligations.

While the two speakers cited the Representatives of Special Interests Group Laws (amendments) Bill, 2019, and the Constitution of Kenya (amendment) Bill, 2019, the CJ notes that they never reverted to explain whether the Bills had been enacted.

It's against this background that senators asked Mr Lusaka to liaise with the Attorney General to explore ways in which the two sides could work together to fight the advisory.

They discussed the application Parliamentary Service Commission has filed in the High Court seeking to interpret Justice Mativo's 2017 order that was served on the last Parliament.

While they support the court action, they opposed the hiring of Ahmednasir Abdullahi to represent the PSC in the suit.

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