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AG confirms Gachagua's executives don't need vetting

By Lydiah Nyawira | March 3rd 2017
Attorney General Githu Muigai offered legal opinion to Governor Samuel Wamathai on the transition of power following the death of Governor Nderitu Gachagua.PHOTO:COURTESY

County executives will not be vetted afresh but the devolved unit will remain without a deputy governor for the next five months.

Attorney General Githu Muigai offered legal opinion to Governor Samuel Wamathai on the transition of power following the death of Governor Nderitu Gachagua.

According to the advisory, the governor does not have the administrative discretion to subsequently select a deputy governor, except with clearance from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission or through an election process.

Mr Wamathai took the oath of office on Monday, vacating the deputy governor's post, which he held in the Gachagua administration.

"In the event that the new governor is unable to discharge the functions of the office, the speaker (of the county assembly) shall then assume office and elections will be held within 60 days," Prof Muigai said.

The future of the members of Gachagua's cabinet remained uncertain as their positions were declared vacant upon his death.

"The old county executive committee having ceased to exist upon the death of the governor, a new committee can now be appointed by the new governor," The AG noted.

As soon as Wamathai was sworn-in, executives vacated their offices for fear of being hounded out of office.

They can, however, breathe easy as they will not have to undergo vetting if the county chief decides to retain them.

"...the question of vetting of suitability of (an executive) who has been retained does not arise as the mere reappointment shows the new county administration has continued confidence in the officer," Muigai argued.

Speaking to The Standard on phone, Wamathai said he had received official communication from the AG.

"I am now in the process of finalising the reappointment of the cabinet so that we can ensure the smooth transition of county operations," he said.

This reassurance will come as relief for the executives who were expected to face fierce opposition from the county assembly which has not been in good terms with the executive.

Several MCAs had vowed to kick out the cabinet if given an opportunity to vet them again.

Wamathai's swearing-in as governor exposed a dilemma on how to fill the deputy governor's position. Both the Constitution and the County Governments Act are clear that the deputy governor takes over as governor in the event of death, resignation, or impeachment of the holder of the office.

But they do not specify the fate of the position of deputy governor, which, as a result of this, falls vacant. The Supreme Court has yet to give an advisory opinion sought by the Embu County Assembly, through its Speaker, Mr Justus Kariuki Mate, in 2015.

Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr on Monday conceded that there was a vacuum in the law as to how the position should be filled, "but I am imagining that the governor can now designate one of the executives to hold the position of deputy".


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