The Nairobi County Assembly will now vet Deputy Governor nominee Anne Kananu next Friday, assembly clerk Edward Gichana has announced in an advertisement.
In the advert, Gichana invites the public members to attend the approval hearing and submit views on Kananu's suitability. More comments on her candidature may be submitted by January 14.
Kananu isinvited to collect the vetting forms from the office of the county assembly clerk today.
The deputy governor nominee's saga started on January 6, 2020 when the county assembly received her name.
However, on February 17, 2020, before the county assembly could vet her, the High Court issued conservatory orders stopping the county assembly from doing so.
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The nomination wind seemed to favour Kananu on January 7, 2021, when the court allowed the application for the withdrawal of the petition, thereby vacating the conservatory orders.
In the circumstances, and pursuant to the provisions of the Public Appointments (County Assemblies) Approval Act, 2017, notice has been given of an approval hearing to be undertaken by the county assembly's Select Committee on Appointments on January 15, 2021.
On Thursday a court agreed to a withdrawal of the main case stopping the vetting of Kananu and refused to admit a fresh petition by ousted Governor Sonko objecting to his nominee.
In the move that now clears way for Kananu to be vetted by Nairobi County Assembly, Justice Hedwig Ong’udi withdrew the original case by Peter Agoro while also dismissing a last-minute case by Sonko to block her from assuming office.
The judge said Sonko had failed to pay the required assessment fees to revive a petition, which was on its deathbed, following an application by Agoro to withdraw.
“The petitioner has not shown interest to continue with the case and has not consented to the second petitioner being enjoined to the case. This court has been told that there is a cross-petition filed by (Harrison) Kinyanjui on behalf of Mike Sonko. It has not been paid and therefore not before the court. The petition had been withdrawn, each party to bear its own cost,” Justice Ong’udi ruled.
A section of members of the County Assembly Appointment Committee have said they are ready to vet Kananu, but only if she is cleared by the courts.
Constitutional lawyer Bobby Mkangi, however, says a by-election is inevitable. He says the law would only recognise Kananu if she was a substantive deputy governor prior to Sonko’s ouster.
“If a substantive deputy governor and not a nominee was in place, then we would not have started plans for a by-election because he or she should have taken over immediately,” said Mkangi.
Constitutional expert and lawyer Duncan Okatch however says acting Governor Benson Mutura may continue acting beyond his 60-day term should the determination of the court petitions delay.
Mutura was sworn in on December 21, 2020 and his term is expected to lapse on February 18, 2021.
Okatch argues that by the court suspending the by-election, it froze all the processes related to it, including the acting governor’s time period.
[Additional reporting by Kamau Muthoni, Josphat Thiong'o and Moses Nyamori]