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House splits over flags for governors

By WILFRED AYAGA | March 5th 2014


NAIROBI, KENYA: A fresh bid to deny governors flags and ‘His Excellency’ titles failed to fly in the National Assembly after MPs questioned the constitutionality of the Bill. Other MPs wanted the debate on the National Flags, Emblems and Names (amendment) Bill stopped, but the presiding member of the Speaker’s Panel Jessica Mbalu, said the debate had to go on.

It came as a shock to many of the MPs that some of their colleagues were defending the governors style where they fly miniature flags on their cars and are addressed using the title ‘His Excellency’.

Adan Keynan (Eldas MP) initiated the Bill and called for governors to be stripped of the flag. Keynan got the support of the Majority Leader Adan Duale in pushing for the title ‘His Excellency’ to be dropped.

 “In my understanding at my age, and I have traveled around this world, that we must allow citizens to express patriotism in their own way. Let’s allow patriotism to flow freely. This is done all over. Let us allow our governors and all citizens to fly our flag freely,” said Sakwa Bunyasi (Nambale).

The Nambale MP added: “There are places in this country—Garissa, Isiolo and Moyale—where people will ask you, are you from Kenya. It is because they have no symbol to show their national pride.”

Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) added: “A flag is a symbol of nationhood, and patriotism. You can even fly it in your house.”

Millie Odhiambo-Mabona (Mbita) also questioned the constitutionality of the Bill.

Junet Mohammed (Suna East) added that governors have to be allowed to fly the national flag as a symbol of patriotism and power in the counties.

 “Let us not use this Bill to discriminate against other people. It will be unethical, immoral and an abuse of our power… In fact I want governors to have two flags: the national flag and another for the county,” Junet said.

John Mbadi (Suba) also appealed to the temporary deputy Speaker to stop the debate

“If there’s a matter of constitutionality, the best thing to do is to stop the discussion. We cannot debate in vain. If the Speaker is going to rule that this issue is unconstitutional, then, we would have wasted our time,” said Mbadi

Mbadi said MPs were wasting time “discussing taking flags from governors” at a time when the country was suffering under yoke of high cost of living.

But his calls were ignored.

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