CORD moves to court, challenges President Uhuru Kenyatta's power in law-making

NAIROBI: The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) has moved to the High Court to seek constitutional interpretation on the extent to which the President can exercise his reservations on legislation passed by the National Assembly.

The Opposition yesterday opened a new legal battle, after recent success over the security bill that was to muzzle media's freedom, and this time is asking the High Court to make a declaration that the President's unilateral proposals to strike out, amend or delete provisions of nine bills passed by Parliament is unconstitutional.

In a case filed under a certificate of urgency, CORD, through lawyer Antony Oluoch, states the actions by the President are in breach of the doctrine of separation of powers and a usurpation of the legislative powers of the august House.

CORD, in its application filed at the Milimani Law Courts, said President Uhuru Kenyatta exceeded the powers conferred upon his office to refer bills back to Parliament for reconsideration.

"The amendments contained in the memorandum by the President go beyond the powers conferred and contemplated under Article 115 (1) (b) of the Constitution, is an invasion of the powers of the National Assembly of legislation and is a breach of the doctrine of separation of powers and therefore a nullity," the petition filed by the Opposition reads in part.

The Raila Odinga-led coalition wants the court to make a determination whether the president has powers to make recommendations in his memorandum rejecting a bill sent to him for assent and whether such recommendation or proposals to overturn provision of a bill are within his powers in making reservations.

CORD listed the Public Audit Bill, 2014, the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill, 2013, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2015, the Central Bank (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and the Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill among laws it claims the president included contested provisions.

Other bills are the Public Procurement and Disposal (Amendment) Bill, 2013, the Statute Law Miscellaneous (Amendment) Bill, 2014, the National Flag, Emblems and Names (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and the Police Service (Amendment) Bill, 2014.

On retirement benefits bill, CORD lawyers will fight a clause that requires Opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka to quit politics to access retirement perks.

CORD also cites a provision in the Public Audit Bill, 2014, that it argues interferes with the independence of the Auditor General.

The Opposition says National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi not only mis-directed himself and the House but also misconstrued the Constitution by ruling the president has powers to make the contested reservations.

The case will be heard by Justice Joseph Onguto Friday.