By STANDARD TEAM
President Kibaki lost final bid to have strong arm of central government in running of counties after his Chief Legal Advisor refused to play along.
The Government received the kick in the teeth after Attorney General Githu Muigai, declined to appeal against a High Court decision to revoke Kibaki’s appointment of 47 county commissioners.
In so doing the AG appeared to side with the High Court on the ruling that the appointments violated the Constitution, the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008, and breached the one-third-gender rule.
Curiously, the AG’s letter declaring he would not appeal was sent to acting Permanent Secretary for Internal Security and Provincial Administration. Instead of recalling the affected commissioners, the PS asked them to remain at their stations in spite of the court order.
The setback to the President’s wish to stamp Executive authority in the devolved units came a day after Prime Minister Raila Odinga cautioned senior civil servants against ignoring the court order and other constitutional requirements.
“It is not a question of whether one is unhappy and is going to appeal or not. The truth of the matter is that a court ruling must be respected. That is why I am deeply concerned with the directive by the PS (Iringo),” said Raila.
A letter signed by Senior Deputy Solicitor General Muthoni Kimani, who repots to Muigai, and dated Tuesday, July 4, advises the President’s office against appealing.
“The Attorney General advises against appealing the High Court decision in the county commissioners’ case,” said Kimani.
The three-paragraph letter kills any hope the Government had in retaining the recently appointed commissioners, largely because if there were to be any appeal, it would be the AG to lodge it.
In her ruling, High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi declared the President had erred in the appointment of the commissioners as he had overlooked a number of Articles in the Constitution. Justice Ngugi said, “The President did not have the legal authority to make such appointments and his decision was against the spirit of the Constitution and the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, which called for consultation and gender balance.”
The list of appointed commissioners had 10 women and 37 men, while the Constitution specifies that no one gender should occupy more than two-thirds in any public appointments.
That notwithstanding, an inquiry by The Standard, showed the commissioners continued working in disregard of the court order. Civil society groups on Tuesday called for the suspension of Iringo for ignoring the court order. This appears to be what prompted the AG’s office to avoid the controversy.
Iringo had earlier asked the commissioners to stay in office with an assurance the AG would overturn the decision through an appeal.