Parliament had passed the Bill on February 23.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki

The House adjourned last evening to April 17 without debating the memo because most MPs felt the president’s decision was unconstitutional. “Weighty matters have been raised by both sides on which I wish to meditate before giving direction,” deputy Speaker Farah Maalim Muhamed ruled.

This was after a lengthy debate between Attorney General Githu Muigai, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo and their allies on one side supporting the President and MPs opposed to Kibaki’s memo.

MPs who claim the document violates the Constitution and Parliament’s Standing Orders accused the AG and Justice Minister of introducing labyrinthine arguments to excuse an unconstitutional act and deify the Head of State.

Led by Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara, the MPs claimed the President’s advisers had misguided him to decline to assent to the Bill.

They further accused the President of sabotaging the principle of devolution to paralyse future county governments and strengthen the Provincial Administration through backdoor.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua declared that the President’s arguments were “totally in error” for trying to push Parliament to entertain a breach of the supreme law, adding that he was “truly let down by his advisers.”

Under Standing Order 47 of Parliament, the House cannot debate a Motion if it violates the Constitution unless that Motion proposes amendment of the supreme law.

On Thursday, Mr Imanyara and his allies wanted Farah to apply the same logic by finding Kibaki to be in contempt of the new charter.

Marende said admissibility of a Motion on the basis of constitutionality cannot be decided by a vote of the plenary. But Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said the only way to determine whether Kibaki acted unconstitutionally was to vote and accused Kibaki’s critics of attempting to water down the powers of the national government under the new charter.

Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto accused Kibaki’s supporters of trying to retain the President’s Office as “the last bastion against change”, adding that by retaining the Provincial Administration, the memo sought to preserve “an occupation force.”

The Imenti Central MP also argued that the President had assented to the National Police Service Bill and recognised the existence of the county equivalent of the national security council that he was now rejecting under the County Governments Bill.

“There is a very specific equivalent which is still chaired by the governor (under the National Police Service Act). That is the law the president signed,” said Imanyara.

But the AG accused MPs of trying to block the President’s constitutional authority to refuse to assent to bills.

The AG further argued that issues raised by Imanyara should be decided by a vote. He accused MPs of trying to rush the restructuring of the Provincial Administration without extensive consultations, prompting Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo to accuse him of promoting a decaying order.

–Stories by David Ochami and Steve Mkawale – The Standard

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