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Arrest of three Senators prompts mixed reactions

COUNTIES
By Abdimalik Hajir | August 20th 2020

The dramatic arrest of senators earlier this week continues to elicit mixed reactions with a section of leaders in Garissa warning that Kenya is turning to a police state.

Addressing a press conference at his residence in Garissa, Former National Assembly Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim (pictured) said, “We are seeing a situation where Kenya is slowly but surely slipping into the old days of a police state.”

Farah who was reacting to Monday's arrest of Senators Cleophas Malala (Kakamega), Christopher Lang’at (Bomet) and Stephen Lelegwe (Samburu) by DCI officers in Nairobi and later driven to their respective counties to face different charges said the detention was ‘uncalled for’.

“I am personally deeply worried by the manner in which the executive is trying to muscle the legislature and the judiciary. This is unacceptable,” he added.

The Kenya Livestock marketing council chair Dubat Amey said that the “direction the Senate debate is taking is going to divide this country.”

“President Uhuru, being a simple national unity, should hold this country together. To keep a country together is not hard but when cracks develop, it’s not easy to bring it together again,” Amey said.  

According to political commentators, the arrest of the three senators was meant to tilt the senate vote on the now contentious revenue sharing vote. The trio has since been released unconditionally.

The lawmakers were opposed to the government-backed formula and are part of 25-member groupings-19 counties that will lose money if the formula was adopted and six from the gaining counties-who have insisted that devolution should be about equity and not losers and winners.

Both the National and County governments are in favour of a proposal by a nominated senator who wants the second-generation formula revenue retained in sharing out the billions this year, as it seeks to increase the devolved units’ revenue share to Sh348 billion.

Maalim criticised House Speaker Kenneth Lusaka’s handling of affairs, a move that has seen it adjourn for a record nine times.

The 12-member senate committee that was constituted on Monday co-chaired by Moses Wetangula (Bungoma) and Johnstone Sakaja (Nairobi) has already hit the ground running as it races against time to develop a formula agreeable to both parties.

Garissa governor Ali Korane regretted that the stalemate has already hurt operations in the country and things are only getting worse by the day.

“I condemn the ploy to further sideline and deprive the historically marginalized regions in our country by reducing their share of devolved funds,” Korane said.

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