Governors to seek legal opinion on CJ’s advice to dissolve Parliament

Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (right) at a past function. [File, Standard]

Governors will seek a legal opinion on the Chief Justice David Maraga’s advisory to President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament for failing to enact the two-third gender law.

In a statement sent to media houses by Council of Governors (CoG) on Friday, the governors said they will restrain themselves from the ongoing debate until they get a legal opinion on the same.

“The Council has resolved to seek a legal opinion on the dissolution of Parliament advisory to inform our next course of action,” read the statement.

The county chiefs also warned that the matter was weighty and that dissolving Parliament might not resolve the stalemate.

“As a Council, we are alive to the fact that this is a weighty matter and whereas we advocate for the respect of the Rule of Law, we are aware dissolution of parliament may not be the answer,” read the statement in parts.

The Chief Justice’s advisory has, however, left lawyers more divided with others saying President Uhuru Kenya has no choice but to dissolve the two Houses as others term it mere advice that can be ignored.

Law Society of Kenya chairman Nelson Havi has said the advisory has rendered Parliament unlawful beginning October 2020.

On Thursday said the society would lead Kenyans in occupying Parliament if President Uhuru failed to dissolve Parliament in 21 days.

“Following the advice by the Chief Justice to the President of the Republic of Kenya to dissolve Parliament, we notify you that Members of the National Assembly and Senators of the 12th Parliament will be unlawfully in office effective October 12, 2020, being twenty-one days from the date of the said advice,” he said.

Havi also told the National Treasury to withhold MPs' salaries from the said date since they had repeatedly failed to pass the crucial Gender Bill.

But speaking to Standard Digital on phone, lawyer Peter Kaluma warned that dissolving Parliament might plunge the country into more constitutional crises.

He dismissed Havi’s stance saying what was required from the CJ is mere advice and that President Uhuru can take or leave it depending on the situation.

"The law would have not required the Chief Justice to advise the President if he had the power to dissolve Parliament. What is required of the Chief Justice is mere advice. The President retains the discretion to decide whether or not to dissolve Parliament,” he said.

He said President Uhuru must consider the budgetary implication of the impending election and whether it is properly constituted before dissolving Parliament.

“Among the considerations the President has to take into account include budgetary implications of a general election, whether the election is properly constituted and the general state of the country. It is never easy to dissolve an elected arm of government,” he concluded.