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Reprieve as Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi back in the House

POLITICS
By Moses Njagih | July 20th 2016

NAIROBI: Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi got a major reprieve when he was allowed back into the National Assembly yesterday.

The MP had been kicked out of the House for disrupting President Uhuru Kenyatta's speech when he addressed a joint session of the National Assembly and the Senate in March.

Speaker Justin Muturi had suspended Wandayi for the remainder of the current session, which ends in December.

However, Wandayi challenged the Speaker's action before the High Court, which ordered he be allowed back to the House pending the hearing and determination of his case.

But when he received the court order last week, Muturi referred the matter to the Powers and Privileges Committee for directions.

This was after Majority Leader Aden Duale questioned the court order, which he said conflicted with the National Assembly Standing Orders.

Wandayi dismissed his suspension and threatened the Speaker with contempt proceedings after Muturi failed to allow him back as ordered by the court.

President Kenyatta's State of the Nation address was disrupted as a section of MPs blew whistles in the House. The whistles were blown just as the President was standing to begin his annual address.

Muturi tried to intervene to restore order in the chambers by reading to the members the Standing Orders. He reminded the MPs of the Standing orders, which provide that the President must be heard in silence during the address, but to no avail.

Muturi asked members who were not ready to listen to the address to withdraw from the House. And when Uhuru rose to make the address after the 30-minute disruption, whistling resumed.

Since then, Wandayi has been fighting to be allowed back. He even gave Muturi 24 hours at one point, to readmit him or risk legal action.

"We insist on full compliance with the court order within the next 24 hours failure to which we shall be left with no option but to institute contempt proceedings against you with risks to yourself, including committal to civil jail for a period not exceeding six months," said Wandayi through his lawyer Anthony Aluoch in a letter to the Speaker dated July 12.

The High Court had ruled continued absence of Wandayi from Parliament was denying his electorate the right to representation and ordered his reinstatement. The MP would have lost millions in allowances had he continued to miss sessions.

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