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CORD and Jubilee MPs agree to delay debate on sugar motion

By Roselyne Obala and Wilfred Ayaga | August 24th 2015

NAIROBI: A report on the sugar crisis is now being used as bait for the extension of the deadline for crucial constitutional bills, The Standard has established.

The crucial motion on the sugar crisis in the country may not see the light of day after the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) asked their Jubilee colleagues to go slow on the report in exchange for their support in pushing for a deadline extension for bills.

Sources privy to the goings-on in the House told The Standard that CORD MPs had pleaded with their Jubilee counterparts to delay debate on the motion for as long as possible to allow the House deal with "less contentious issues".

Parliament is time-barred in passing over 28 bills on the implementation of the Constitution, which must be enacted by August 27.

Jubilee wants an extension of one year, but to achieve this, it needs the support of 233 members, which it cannot do without the help of Opposition counterparts.

The eagerly awaited report on the sugar crisis, which was expected to raise temperatures in the House, did not make it to the floor of the House last Thursday as a boardroom deal ensured political expediency carried the day.

A majority of MPs who had turned up in the House ready to ventilate on the sugar crisis were surprised when parliamentary orderlies handed them a supplementary order paper where the motion was missing.

"I came into the chamber to find that we have a supplementary order paper. Surprisingly, we don't have the sugar report on the floor of the House yet our people are suffering. Can the House be informed what prompted the removal of the motion from the order paper?" Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East) demanded.

The Standard learnt that Washiali and Mukurweini MP Kabando Wa Kabando stormed into the offices of Speaker Justin Muturi and clerk Justin Bundi to protest the dropping of the motion from the order paper.

CORD Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo later claimed that the decision to withdraw the motion, and which was later communicated to the Speaker, had been done to allow more time to deal with the issue of the constitutional bills.

"The sugar thing has become bitter. We pleaded with our colleagues that for us to get the load of the constitutional bills off our backs, we needed consensus. The House Business Committee has the power to alter the order paper, unless someone is questioning the powers of the Speaker," said Mr Midiwo.

He termed the sugar issue "controversial".

Midiwo and House Majority Leader Aden Duale appeared to be reading from the same script on the decision to withdraw the motion, with the latter explaining that there was nothing sinister in the withdrawal.

"The scheduling of the business of the House is the sole business of the House Business Committee. When the report comes before the House, I hope people will be here and it will be debated," added Mr Duale.

Failure to beat the deadline for the enactment of constitutional bills could lead to the dissolution of Parliament.

The 'scratch my back, I scratch yours' happened amid mixed signals on whether Orange Democratic Movement Secretary for Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) intends to move amendments to the report that seeks to have Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and other former senior managers of the sugar miller held accountable for losses suffered by the company between 2011 and 2014.

The Speaker later gave communication on the floor of the House confirming that the compromise between the two coalitions had been communicated to him.

MPs from both sides are scheduled to hold a Kamukunji (informal meeting) tomorrow during which deliberations on the deadline extension are expected to feature.

Jubilee leaders have linked key CORD leaders to the sugar crisis in the country, with Duale last week claiming he has evidence to show CORD leader Raila Odinga owes Mumias Sugar over Sh67 million.

The Opposition has denied the claims, which were fired off by critical comments made by Raila on a sugar importation deal allegedly hammered between Kenya and Uganda during a recent visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta to the neighbouring country.

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