Explainer: What happens when a deputy governor is impeached?

Siaya deputy governor William Oduol. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Siaya Deputy Governor William Oduol has become the latest casualty of impeachment, after over 40 MCAs voted to impeach him on Thursday, June 8.

Members of the County Assembly voted unanimously to hound Oduol out of office over gross misconduct, violation of the Constitution, and abuse of office.

For months, residents of Siaya County have been victims of the rift between Oduol and his boss, James Orengo.

The series of disagreements have seen Oduol become the first Deputy Governor to be impeached.

The move has now thrown his short career as second in command of the devolved unit, at the mercy of the Senate, which will decide his fate.

When can a deputy governor be impeached?

A Deputy Governor can be removed if he or she violates the Constitution or any other law, commits a crime under national or international law, abuses office, or displays gross misconduct.

When that happens, the MCAs move a motion to remove him or her by filing a notice to the speaker of the assembly. The motion must receive the support of two-thirds of all the members to go ahead.

Former Nyeri County Assembly Speaker John Kaguchia advises that during a deputy governor's impeachment, the process of impeaching a governor should be adopted.

"When a Deputy Governor is facing impeachment, what will guide the county assembly and the Senate is the process of impeaching a Governor, " says Kaguchia.

Role of Senate in Impeachment

According to the law, once the impeachment motion has gone through in the county assembly, the county assembly speaker shall then inform the Senate speaker within two days in writing.

The deputy governor will however continue to perform the functions of the office pending the outcome of the impeachment process.

At the Senate, the speaker convenes a meeting whose aim is to hear the charges the county assembly brought against the deputy governor.

The Senate then appoints a special committee comprising eleven members to investigate the matter, which should occur within seven days from when the Speaker received the notice of impeachment.

The special committee of the Senate then investigates the matter and reports to the Senate within ten days. The report should contain details on whether it finds proof for the charges the accuser brought against a deputy governor.

During the process, the deputy governor has the right to appear and be represented before the committee to defend himself.

If the special committee finds no proof against the allegations facing the Deputy Governor, then the proceedings end there.

If it finds proof, the Senate proceeds to vote on impeachment charges which only takes place after the assurance that the deputy governor receives a fair hearing.

If a majority of the members of the Senate vote to uphold the impeachment, the deputy governor ceases to hold office.

If the recommendations vote to reject the impeachment charges, the Senate speaker should notify the speaker of the respective county assembly.

The same charges can however be introduced before the assembly after three months from the day the Senate votes against the impeachment.

Vacancy in the Deputy Governor office

If Senate upholds the assembly's impeachment of the deputy governor, this will mean there will be a vacancy in the position.

When this happens, the onus is on the county governor to nominate a new deputy within 14 days.

MCAs will then vote on whether to approve or reject the nomination within 60 days.

Other counties with a similar fate

Though not entirely alike, Oduol's fate is almost similar to previous incidents in Bomet and Nyeri counties.

When former Bomet Governor Dr. Joyce Laboso died in 2019, her then-deputy, Hillary Barchok, was appointed to office almost a week later.

His next big assignment was to pick a deputy governor. Barchok settled on then County Speaker David Rotich as his deputy.