Kenya: ODM Demands City Slot As Court Halts Anne Mwenda Swearing-in

18 January 2021

Even before Nairobi Deputy Governor Anne Kananu Mwenda takes over as Nairobi's third governor, a fresh political storm is brewing, with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) demanding the deputy governor slot.

Ms Mwenda, who assumed the reigns of City Hall Monday after vacation of office by acting Nairobi Governor Benson Mutura, is now facing an acid test that could dim her quest to become the first female governor of Nairobi.

The twin blow could come in the form of a court case by two lobby groups and ODM, who are all threatening to scuttle the plan.

ODM, led by President Kenyatta's Handshake partner Raila Odinga, said they will not support the unfolding power matrix at City Hall should they not be assured of the deputy governor position.

On Monday, Mr Mutura, who has been acting governor since December last year following the impeachment of Governor Mike Sonko, announced he was vacating the position after Ms Mwenda was sworn in as deputy governor last Friday to return to his Nairobi County Assembly Speaker's position.

The new development paved the way for the swearing-in of the former county disaster management chief officer as governor.

The assumption of office committee, chaired by acting County Secretary Jairus Musumba, is now set to meet and agree on the date of the swearing-in before gazetting the same with Ms Mwenda confirming that the committee had already started the process.

"Once the process is done we will communicate," said Ms Mwenda.

LSK case

However, the planned smooth handover of power to Ms Mwenda could run into headwinds after a Nairobi court issued orders suspending any planned swearing-in.

This is after the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Kenya Human Rights Commission went to court seeking to block the 40-year-old from becoming the City County boss, saying her last week's hurried oath of office was unconstitutional.

Under certificate of urgency, the petitioners alleged that the development is a calculated political move to avoid a by-election in Nairobi undermining the right of Nairobi people to elect a governor and deputy governor of their choice.

Lawyer Peter Wanyama said they had obtained orders stopping the swearing-in until the fundamental legal and constitutional questions arising from Ms Mwenda's vetting, approval, and appointment as the substantive deputy governor of Nairobi are determined.

"The High Court has also certified the petition as extremely urgent and because it raises substantial questions of law, an order has been issued for the acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu to appoint a bench of judges to hear the petition on priority basis," he said.

Opposition's warning

Further putting pressure on the deal to usher in Ms Mwenda into office, ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohammed warned the opposition party will bolt out of the deal should they not be assured of the position.

He said it is the Odinga-led party that initiated Mr Sonko's ouster, with 47 ODM MCAs going ahead to support the motion against 41 from Jubilee Party and as such, their support should not be taken for granted.

"Putting that into consideration, we want the deputy governor to come from ODM party. Anything short of a deputy governor will be seen as a betrayal and we will not accept it," said the Suna East MP.

"This is a war we have gone together with Jubilee to salvage Nairobi County from the doldrums that it was in and if we do not get a position that is commensurate with the efforts we have put in then we will not take it lying down."

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