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Senate to convene Special Sitting over Kawira Mwangaza ouster

 Meru County MCAs in song and dance after impeaching governor Kawira Mwangaza. [George Kaimenyi, Standard]

The Senate is expected to convene a Special Sitting to consider the impeachment of Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza, in the next seven days.

The governor was on Wednesday ousted after 67 out of 69 Members of County Assembly (MCAs) voted her out over alleged gross misconduct, nepotism, illegal appointments, unlawful dismissals, misleading campaigns against other leaders and gross violation of the Constitution.

Mwangaza, who won the election on an independent ticket, was the first woman in the Meru to be elected governor. In a communication approved by Senate Speaker Amason Kingi, senators will in the next week retreat from recess and troop back to the House for the impeachment proceedings where they will decide whether Kawira will face the whole House or whether a special committee will be formed to spearhead the proceedings.

The senate can either decide to uphold Kawira's ouster or overturn the impeachment.

"Meru County has already brought impeachment motion to the Senate. Please note that the Speaker shall call for a Special Sitting of the Senate to read out the charges and resolutions of the County Assembly against the governor and the Senate's consideration of the impeachment shall commence as per the Third schedule of the Standing Orders and Section 33 of the County Government's Act," stated the communication from Senate.

The ouster has, however, heralded the start of a belligerent battle between her supporters and the MCAs intent on showing her the door. Barely 24 hours after her impeachment, a lobby group started collection of signatures for dissolution of the county government. The group is said to have already collected over 80,000 signatures and presented to governor Kawira who is in turn expected to present the dissolution petition to President William Ruto.

According to Article 192 of the Constitution, the President may suspend a county government if there is an emergency arising out of internal conflict or war or in any other exceptional circumstances. But for that to happen, an Independent Commission of Inquiry must first be formed to probe allegations against the county government and the President be satisfied that the allegations are justified. The Senate must also authorize the suspension of the county.

Notably, a suspension shall not extend beyond a period of 90 days within which elections for the county government shall be held. The calls for dissolution are reminiscent of those by former Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana who had in 2020 urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Makueni County over "irreconcilable differences" between his administration and the MCAs.

He lamented that the differences had stalled the operations of the government; accusing MCAs of making it "very difficult" for the government to function, citing delays in passing Bills and the budget that would facilitate the smooth running of the county.

Kawira is now the first governor to be ousted following the August 9, polls but one of many who have fallen on the impeachment sword since the advent of devolution. In the third Senate, the House considered five impeachment motions among them former Taita Taveta Governor Ganton Samboja, Kirinyaga County Governor Anne Waiguru, Wajir's Mohammed Abdi, Kiambu's Ferdinand Waititu and former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.

The Senate overturned Samboja and Waiguru's impeachment while Abdi, Sonko, and Waititu were sent home. Sonko was accused of gross violation of the law; committing a crime under national and international laws, and lacking the capability to run the county. He was also faulted by MCAs for crippling the operations of NMS and the county executive by failing to assent to a Sh37.4b budget and the subsequent refusal to release funds for county operations.

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