Kenya: Governors Want 'Unfair' Impeachment Law Amended

Kenyan Airways plane wing.
3 October 2023

Nairobi — The Council of Governors (COG) has raised concerns over what it has termed as 'unfair' impeachment laws targeting the heads of devolved units.

Amidst several impeachment motions against Governors, including Meru's Kawira Mwangaza, COG Chair Anne Waiguru voiced concerns, stating that the absence of provisions designed to 'protect' Governors from potential witch-hunts during the execution of their duties is hampering the delivery of services to citizens.

Waiguru noted that the process of removing a Member of Parliament (MP), a Senator, or a Member of the County Assembly (MCA) differs significantly from that of Governors, calling for the streamlining of the impeachment process of Governors.

"The procedure of removing an MP is very lengthy and very tedious and limited in terms of time. You are told you cannot start a removal of an MP within the first two years from the date of the election and cannot attempt to remove an MP a year before elections. We don't have such provisions in county governments," she said.

The COG Chair emphasized the need for County Governors to be treated equally to their counterparts in the National Assembly and County Assemblies in the event of impeachment.

"We do not want a situation where County governors are treated in a lesser manner than MPs, MCAs."

Waiguru stressed that introducing such provisions would play a crucial role in preventing the recurring impeachment processes that have become a tradition.

"We are asking that the same provisions that you have provided for the national assembly kindly do provide the same for governors,"

She confirmed that the revision of the impeachment procedure would be one of the proposals discussed by the COG with the National Dialogue Committee.

According to Article 181 of the constitution, a Governor can be removed on grounds of "gross violation of the Constitution or any other law."

Removal is also possible if there are credible reasons to believe that the Governor has committed a crime under national or international law, or if there is evidence of office abuse or gross misconduct.

Physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office of County Governor also constitutes grounds for removal.

As per Section 33 of the County Governments Act, the impeachment process commences with MCAs tabling a motion to remove the County Governor, providing notice to the speaker, and relying on the grounds stipulated in Article 181 of the constitution.

The motion must garner the support of two-thirds of MCAs to proceed.

Once the motion passes, the County Assembly speaker must inform the Senate speaker within two days of the impeachment in writing, referencing the County Assembly's resolution to impeach the Governor.

The Governor continues to perform their duties pending the outcome of the impeachment process.

If a majority of Senators vote in favor of impeachment, the Governor will be removed from office; otherwise, if they vote against it, the Senate Speaker notifies the County Assembly Speaker.

After three months from the Senate's rejection of impeachment charges, an MCA can reintroduce the charges.

Article 182 of the constitution dictates that the Deputy Governor assumes office as the County Governor in case of removal.

If the Governor is unavailable, the Speaker of the County Assembly acts as the Governor for a maximum of sixty days before a new election for the office is held.

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