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Parliament: wrangles intensify at Legal Affairs Committee as ODM pulls out

By | May 5th 2011

By Peter Opiyo

ODM has withdrawn its members in the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs over leadership wrangles in the potent

The orange party said it took the move to allow political solution with its coalition partner, PNU, over the leadership crisis in the committee. PNU members and rebel ODM MPs had threatened to pass a vote of no confidence against Committee Chairman Ababu Namwamba over his leadership style.

This means five ODM MPs in the 11-member committee should relinquish their positions as the party waits to conduct fresh nominations.

The ODM MPs in the Committee are Ababu, Chepalungu MP, Isaac Rutto, Kisumu Town West MP, Olago Aluoch and nominated MPs; Sophia Abdi and Millie Odhiambo.

Mr Rutto and Ms Abdi are the ODM rebel MPs who have been going against the party’s grain in the committee.

Other members of the Committee on the PNU side are Githunguri MP, Njoroge Baiya (Vice chairman), Mandera Central MP, Abdikadir Mohammed, Saboti MP, Eugene Wamalwa, Gachoka MP, Mutava Musyimi and nominated MPs Amina Abdallah and George Nyamweya.

“The ODM has decided to withdraw with immediate effect all our MPs who are members of the Department Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs to give the party and its coalition partner the PNU alliance time to resolve the crisis facing that Committee, politically,” said ODM Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o.

The crisis has paralysed the work of the committee, which has not been meeting since February. The committee is charged with key responsibilities of scrutinizing crucial Bills, some of them required to implement the constitution.

One of the Bills that the Committee is to handle is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which is currently under debate in Parliament.

And ODM feels a group of anti-reformers are targeting the Committee with a view of influencing appointments to key constitutional offices, like the proposed Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Nyong’o, who was accompanied by 13 ODM MPs, said the party is convinced there are forces that are out to derail the implementation of the constitution.

“ODM is convinced that forces that opposed the constitution either as reds or water melons have formed a coalition of impunity to derail the implementation of the new Constitution and protect the status quo,” said Nyong’o.

He said the party is perturbed that this ‘Coalition of impunity’ may be holding President Kibaki hostage and misleading him in making dangerous decisions like the botched nominations of the Attorney General, Chief Justice, Director of Public Prosecutions and the Controller of Budget, early 2011.

The party accused the anti-reformers of threatening bodies and individuals seen to be keen on the implementation of the constitution, pointing out that such threats have been targeted at Ababu, House Speaker Kenneth Marende, and Attorney General Amos Wako.

Nyong’o said the party has written to the Clerk of the National Assembly Patrick Gichohi and the Speaker Marende over the party’s move.

It is not clear when the party would fill up the vacancies, but Parliamentary Standing Orders state any vacancy should be filled within seven days after the National Assembly meets next.

According to the House rules of procedure it is the parliamentary
party in consultation with the House Business Committee that nominates members to select committees. The members will thus be approved by parliament to sit in the committees.

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