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MPs recalled to pass new laws, endorse Nkaiserry as Interior minister

POLITICS
By Nzau Musau | December 14th 2014
President Uhuru addressing the nation at Parliament ahead of his visit to the ICC.PHOTO:BONIFACE OKENDO

MPs have been summoned to the House on Thursday this week to a special sitting to pass the contentious Security Laws (amendment) Bill, 2014 to enable the President replace security heads before Christmas.

During the special session, the MPs will also approve the nomination of Kajiado Central MP Joseph Nkaissery as the new Interior and Coordination of National Government Cabinet Secretary following his vetting last Thursday.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi confirmed to The Standard on Sunday that he was putting in place necessary legal arrangements to have the MPs assemble next Thursday to conclude the changes.

Last Thursday, MPs passed the Security Bill through the Second Reading. It now awaits the Third Reading and Presidential Assent to become law.

“I have already given notice which will be in the Kenya Gazette recalling the House on Thursday next week,” Muturi said.

Sources within the Jubilee parliamentary caucus said President Uhuru Kenyatta was keen to have the changes concluded as soon as possible to enable him fill the vacant positions of Inspector General of Police and Interior CS.

The two top-most internal security offices fell vacant with the early retirement of David Kimaiyo and firing of Joseph ole Lenku last week, following a second Al Shabaab attack on Mandera residents in which 36 people were killed.

Initially, the Bill and Nkaissery’s vetting were supposed to have been concluded on Thursday, according to a plan developed at a Jubilee MPs’ luncheon held on Wednesday at State House.

However, following protestations on some of the contents of the Bill, including interventions by the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), the plan was shelved and it was agreed to commit the Bill to relevant committees for the proposed amendments to be worked on.

On Friday during his Jamhuri Day off-the-cuff speech, the President acknowledged that CIC had pleaded with him to allow room for amendment of the Bill, which has since passed the second reading in the National Assembly.

CIC Commissioner Kamotho Waiganjo confirmed the commission’s engagement with State House and the National Security Committee of the National Assembly.

“The Bill will pass with amendments. From our engagement, we noticed they appreciated our concerns. They sounded genuine in their resolve to address security challenges obtaining but we impressed on them that it is not an excuse to clamp down on fundamental freedoms and rights,” Waiganjo said.

Christmas Recess

“The move (special session) is a disadvantage to the Opposition because we thought we would have ample time to consolidate our amendments. Also, some members have since travelled to their constituencies and getting them all back may not be feasible,” ODM chairman John Mbadi told The Standard on Sunday yesterday.

Mbadi, who opposed the Bill when it was debated on Thursday, said Nkaissery’s approval can proceed on Thursday but the security Bill should be left out so that more consultation can take place over the recess.

He said in the meantime, the process to appoint the next IG should follow the course of the current law because the country cannot be held in suspense in anticipation of a new law.

“But if they insist on ambushing us like they have, we will still be ready with our amendments on Thursday. We are working on them right now and they should be ready by then,” Mbadi said.

However, Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru (TNA) says the time between now and Thursday is enough for MPs, “especially those from CORD” to read, understand and embrace the philosophy behind the proposed changes. He said after Uhuru’s Jamhuri Day plea, the Opposition should drop their hardline stance.

He said the last thing Kenyans want is a contest between the two coalitions on national security matters.

“This being a festive season, Kenyans are looking forward for security assurances. The best Christmas gift we can give them as MPs is to pass these laws and endorse the nomination of Nkaissery so that together with the new IG, they can settle on the difficult task ahead,” Waweru said.

The Bill amends Section 12 of the National Police Service Act by scraping sub-section 2 which gives the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) the responsibility to consider the applications, conduct public interviews and shortlist at least three persons for the IG position.

It substitutes the sub-section with a new one which reads: “The President shall, within 14 days after a vacancy occurs in the office of the IG nominate a person for appointment as IG and submit the name of the nominee to the National Assembly.”

The Bill deletes sub-section 3, 4, 5 and 6 which detail the process of appointing the IG through the commission route. It also amends section 15 by deleting sub-section 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. The sub-sections set out an elaborate procedure through which the IG may be removed from office through petition.

In a similar manner, the Bill also amends Section 17 of the Act by deleting sub-section 2,3,4,5 and 6 on process of removing deputy IGs through petition process.

Kimaiyo retired on December 2. By the time the Bill becomes law, the 14-day period given in the amendment for Uhuru to nominate the IG will have expired.

“There is a process provided by the law as it exists at the moment. Why can’t they use this law?” Mbadi wondered. Apart from the uncertainty over which law will be used to appoint the next IG, the legality of Kimaiyo’s continued stay in office after his retirement is in doubt.

Kimaiyo has said he will stay on until his successor is appointed. National Police Service Commission chairman Johnstone Kavuludi yesterday defended Kimaiyo’s continued stay in office saying it is within the law.

Kimaiyo’s replacement

“He retired procedurally and the President, as the appointing authority, was within the law to request him to stay in office until his replacement is found,” he said.

He said although the commission has a quorum to sit and deliberate Kimaiyo’s successor, they will only do so once he hands over his office.

“There is nothing for us to deliberate about because he is still in office. When he exits we will follow the law to seek his replacement,” he said.

Kavuludi’s sentiments contradict Kimaiyo’s assertion that he is waiting for his successor to vacate for good.

On the Bill, Kavuludi claimed that the proposed changes will not affect the powers and operations of the commission. He said the Bill did not make changes to the National Police Service Commission Act which is the parent Act for the commission.

“It has not touched the National Police Service Commission Act at all. In any case, our responsibility is not to make laws but to implement them,” he said.

The quorum for the NPSC is five members. Two of the members must be those appointed by the President on account of their public service. Excluded from the quorum consideration by the law however is the IG and his two deputies.

With the death of one Commissioner Esther Colombini and hospitalisation of another, Maj (rtd) Shadrack Muiu, the commission is left with only four commissioners – Kavuludi, Mary Auma, Murshid Abdalla and Ronald Musengi.

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