10 MPs hold foreign citizenship: Okiya Omtatah

An activist has claimed that at least 10 legislators have allegiance to foreign countries as they hold dual nationalities.

Okiya Omtatah consequently wants the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to ascertain if the said MPs are in violation of the Constitution, which bars State officers from holding dual nationalities.

Omtatah said two senators were American citizens, while eight members of the National Assembly and a former MP who currently holds a top position in a parastatal also had dual citizenship.

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Five of the said eight members of the National Assembly are from Northern Kenya, with claims that four hold Kenyan and Somalia nationality while the fifth one allegedly has Kenyan, Somalia and Ethiopian citizenship.  

An MP from Nairobi is said to be a Kenyan and UK citizen while another one from the Eastern region is said to be holding Kenyan and Greek citizenship.

Omtatah says an MP from Rift Valley and the ex-lawmaker who holds a position in the parastatal are Kenyan and US nationals.

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“I am not a dual citizen. I am a citizen of Kenya ONLY,” one of the MPs who is among those listed told The Standard in a text.  

The Standard was unable to get the others listed to respond to these claims. When we sought to know from Omtatah the source of his claims he maintained it was “credible but confidential” information.

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In the letter dated October 1, and addressed to the EACC Chief Executive Officer, Omtatah argues that it is imperative for the legislators’ citizenship to be ascertained.

The activist told EACC his letter had been prompted by a decision of a parliamentary committee resolution to probe Kenya’s high commissioner to South Korea Mwende Mwinzi for allegedly violating the Constitution by refusing to denounce her US citizenship.

Ms Mwinzi, who is a US-born Kenyan, has protested the move and petitioned the High Court to find that the verdict by the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Katoo ole Metito was a violation of her rights.

“In the spirit of adhering to the rule of law and applying the law consistently and equally to all, it’s of overwhelming national importance and public interest that our legislators submit themselves to the same standards they have set for diplomats,” Omtatah’s letter, which has been received by EACC, reads.

It adds: “The constitution expressly bars MPs from holding dual nationality if it was acquired through naturalization. Consequently, by way of this letter, we are requesting EACC to conduct an audit of the Members of Parliament to ascertain if any of them has allegiance to foreign nations via citizenship or hold any instruments such as green card.”

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EACC Communications officer Yasin Amaro said the agency would investigate the veracity of the claim.

“It’s now upon us to investigate the claims before making any conclusion,” Mr Yasin said.

Not eligible

Article 78 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 states that a person is not eligible for election or appointment to a State office unless the person is a citizen of Kenya. It also states that a State officer or a member of the defence forces shall not hold dual citizenship.

However, the same clause exempts judges and members of commissions or any person who has been made a citizen of another country by operation of that country’s law, without ability to opt out from this requirement.

Last month, Ms Mwinzi declined to renounce her US citizenship and instead filed an urgent petition at the High Court to compel Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma to designate and post her to Seoul, South Korea, as the country’s envoy, saying she had complied with all the requirements for the position.

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