Jubilee meeting hampers House sittings as MPs debate EALA nominees

Jubilee meeting hampers House sittings as MPs debate EALA nominees

A Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting held at State House this morning triggered a quorum hitch in the National Assembly, delaying House business.

Speaker Justin Muturi was forced to order that the quorum bell be rung for five minutes, to enable Minority Leader John Mbadi mobilise lawmakers who were within the precincts of Parliament to make their way into the chambers. Wednesday morning sittings are reserved for private members motions.

House Standing Orders that guide operations and business in Parliament require that at least 50 Members of Parliament (MPs) be present for any sitting to commence. Standing order number 34 is specific on the quorum: “A quorum of the House or a committee of the whole House shall be 50 members…”

During the morning sitting, not a single member of parliament from the Majority side (Jubilee) was present in the House as they were all holed up at State House, attending a Parliamentary Group meeting convened by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the ruling party’s leader. 

Members of Parliament from the minority side (NASA) took issue with Jubilee MPs’ absence in the House, with Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo, an Independent legislator, urging Muturi to make a determination.

“It is totally out of order for Government to entirely miss house sittings… PG meetings should not be held during the house sittings time,” said Mr. Kilonzo.

The Speaker, however, said he had no mandate or powers to determine how, when and where either the Majority or Minority side MPs can meet.

“There is no government in Parliament. There is only the minority and majority sides in parliament. I cannot control when parties hold parliamentary group meetings. However, if any party misses House sittings then they are doing themselves a disservice,” said Speaker Muturi.

In a cheeky turn of events, Dagoretti North Simba Arati (ODM) sat on the majority leader’s seat, designated for Garissa Township MP Aden Duale.

The House is currently debating the report of the Joint Parliamentary Select committee on the election of Members to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). Parliament has until tomorrow to pick nine nominees; five from Jubilee and four from NASA to represent Kenya in the regional assembly.

Twenty-five persons were shortlisted to battle it out for the nine slots in the regional Legislature. Among those in the race for the EALA slots include Dr. Oburu Oginga, elder brother to NASA Leader Raila Odinga, Kennedy Musyoka, son to Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka, former MPs Simon Mbugua, Adan Nooru, Wanjiku Muhia and Abdikadir Aden. Other nominees include Beth Syengo, Bishop Jackson Kosgei and former National Assembly clerk Justin Bundi.

Intense lobbying is on, as nominees scramble for the nine slots. MPs will vote on the Kenyan delegation to EALA through secret ballot on Thursday, December 14. 

“Once we elect the nine nominees tomorrow, they will no longer represent their parties. We must settle on a list that is broad based, that factors in experience, gender, regional diversity. Looking at the list, we are spoilt for choice,” said Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.