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Kisii County Assembly standoff: Police storm chambers, walk away with mace

POLITICS
By Eric Abuga | June 8th 2021
Boochi Borabu Ward MCA Samwel Onuko addresses the press at Kisii town on 8/6/2021. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Debate on the Kisii county government budget by MCAs ended in disarray after police officers stormed the assembly and walked away with the mace.

The officers took the mace to an armoury at the Critical Infrastructure Police Unit (CIPU).

Deputy Speaker Davins Onuso condemned the move.

“It is not the mandate of the police to stop our legislation process. The issue of police giving orders should end at the police station,” said Mr Onuso.

Sensei Ward MCA Paul Angwenyi called on the Interior ministry to bar officers from going to the assembly while armed.

“We hired Kombo and it is us members who have fired him. Nobody can purport to bring him back.”

He said: “Today is a black day for our people. We have many aspects to discuss but we have seen deep interference in our independent institution. Those with funny interests should keep off for now. Blocking us from accessing our symbol authority; mace will not deter us from achieving our goal.”

It is a situation that also saw the election of a new Speaker of the Assembly to replace David Kombo who was recently impeached, stopped due to the fact that the mace had been taken away.

The assembly that has been lagging behind in the budget making process was to scrutinise the 2019/2020 budget as well as debate development items for the 2020/21 financial year’s estimates.  

The embattled speaker had obtained a court order a week ago barring the Clerk of the Assembly, the Assembly and Members from carrying out elections to replace him.

Two rival groups clashed, forcing the police to use teargas to disburse the members. In the melee, two MCAs were injured; one, James Ondari (Masimba) was admitted to one of the private hospitals in Kisii town while the other, Amos Onderi (Bokimonge) was treated and later discharged.

On May 31, 2021, the Clerk James Nyaoga through a Government Gazette Notice had declared the position of the speaker vacant. Applicants were told to pick nominations papers from the Clerk’s office latest June 4.

The clerk later confirmed that at least six people had applied for the position.

June 7, 2021 another Kenya Gazette Notice was issued allegedly through an acting clerk Mbaka Omwoyo revoking the early notice.

According to Advocate Edward Begi, a Kenya Government Gazette Notice can only be signed by a gazetted state officer. “The law is clear between the clerk and his deputy who remains a gazetted state officer.”

Samuel Onukho, the acting speaker who had presided over Kombo’s impeachment motion said the Labour Court in Kisumu through Judge Stephen Radido had given a ruling on April 28 referring the matter back to the House.

The assembly sat on May 2 but “Kombo lost the vote after majority members; 46 won against 21.”

The assembly Minority Leader James Ondari said the wrangles at the Kisii County Assembly had delayed development programs for seven months.

“From the onset, I have been of the opinion that what we are fighting for are internal matters that can be discussed on a round table. This is the time to prepare our budget. We have spent much of our time trying to impeach the speaker. We could wish to employ an alternative mechanism in solving this matter,” he said.

Samuel Apepo representing Kiogoro ward said the wrangles before the assembly were not in any way linked to the alleged difference between Kisii Governor James Ongwae and Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiangi.

“Purely these are internal issues, the speaker has all rights to defend himself. We will look at all means and ensure that Kombo gets back to the assembly as the substantive speaker,” he said.

The issues emerged in November last year when the MCAs lost one of their own; Daniel Mainya. It had emerged that members had not been insured.

Subsequently, Bogiakumu Ward MCA then raised an impeachment motion against Kombo accusing him of abuse of office.  

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