Kenya: ODM Ejects Otiende Amollo From JLAC in Purge on Dissidents

Nairobi — The ODM Party removed Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo from the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) on Tuesday and replaced him with Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang, in a move seen as an attempt to silence dissenting voices.

National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya confirmed the removal of Amollo on Tuesday in the latest raft of changes that also affected other lawmakers across the party and were sanctioned by the House Selection Committee.

The removal of Amollo who until his exit was the vice chair of the JLAC which prepared the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020 also known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report followed his criticism on the Bill which is currently being debated before the House.

The first term lawmaker has been poking holes into the Bill questioning the constitutionality of the creation of the 70 new constituencies under the Bill.

"The vicissitudes of politics. So, the schemers want me out of JLAC. I will take it in grace and stride," Amollo had tweeted hours before his removal was made official.

A section of ODM legislators had accused Amollo of not toeing the party line and undermining the party leader Raila Odinga by speaking against the Bill.

ODM had instructed members to support the Bill in its entirety and leave its fate to be decided by Kenyans in a national referendum.

The first term MP who is also a constitutional lawyer together with Siaya Senator James Orengo have been critical of the BBI Bill though it remains unclear if the ODM leadership will also take action against the latter who is also the Senate Minority Leader.

Orengo also raised weighty constitutional issues that he said should first be addressed before the Bill can be subjected to a vote by the bicameral Parliament and the subsequent onward transmission to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi ruled out further amendments to the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020 by members citing it as a popular initiative.

In an elaborate ruling that was triggered by concerns raised by members that touched on the constitutionality of the Bill, Muturi said that amending the Bill would negate the popular will of the people in directly amending the Constitution.

"I am of the considered opinion that any attempt to amend the provisions of the Bill directly negates the popular nature of the Bill and the exercise of the sovereign will of its promoters who have collected more than one million signatures of registered voters in its support and ostensibly convinced a majority of the county assemblies to approve without alteration," he stated on Tuesday.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka is yet to rule on the position that should be taken by the House on whether members can amend the Bill after a section of Senators raised concerns that the Bill had unconstitutional provisions.

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