Uhuru unmoved by MPs' plan to skip House sitting

Monday September 11 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during a meeting with members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance at State House, Nairobi, on September 11, 2017. He said if Nasa MPs miss the House sitting, their constituents are the ones who will lose out. PHOTO | SAMUEL MIRING'U 

By SAMWEL OWINO
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Opposition MPs have said they will boycott Tuesday’s opening of the 12th Parliament by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The first joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament will take place at the National Assembly Chambers in the afternoon.

However, opposition MPs and senators have said they will boycott the ceremony, arguing that the President has no powers to convene the new Parliament.

REPEAT ELECTION
Nasa co-principal and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula said Mr Kenyatta is “a lame-duck President”.

He added that authority lies in the President who will assume office after next month’s presidential repeat election.

“Between the general election and the time when a newly elected President assumes office, the outgoing President exercises limited powers during temporary incumbency.

"The opening of Parliament must therefore await the fresh presidential election,” Mr Wetang’ula said.

WIN NULLIFIED
According to the senator, the nullification of the re-election of President Kenyatta by the Supreme Court on September 1 undermined any legitimacy or the authority he had or enjoyed.

“This matter is therefore simple and straightforward and requires no debate. Nasa MPs will not attend the purported opening of Parliament,” Mr Wetang’ula said during a press conference at the opposition’s offices in Lavington.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said he will be busy campaigning for his party leader and has no time for a President whose re-election was nullified.

“How would I sit in the House and legitimise a speech by someone with whom my party leader is competing for votes in an election that is a month away?

"I will stay away and use my time more productively,” Mr Wandayi said.

JUBILEE MAJORITY
However, President Kenyatta dared the opposition MPs to boycott the event, saying it was their constituents who would miss out.

Speaking at State House during a meeting with Ukambani leaders, the President said the threat amounted to nothing as Jubilee, which together with its affiliates, has 213 of 349 seats in the National Assembly, has the numbers to transact business.

“They said they will boycott the official opening of Parliament, and we say: Well done. We will pass bills in the National Assembly and the Senate,” President Kenyatta said. 

AGENDA

The opening of the 12th Parliament will pave the way for the bicameral House to officially start its work.

The President traditionally uses the inauguration of the House to set the government legislative agenda for the new term of office.

However, this might not be the case as President Kenyatta is facing a fresh presidential election.