Two expelled from MPs' retreat - Daily Nation

Two expelled from MPs' retreat

Monday December 6 2010

By WALTER MENYA and PETER LEFTIE

Sharp differences rocked a retreat called by MPs to resolve the boundaries row, throwing the fate of the new Constitution implementation in jeopardy.

At a stormy retreat held at the Kenya Institute of Administration Monday, two members were expelled as tempers boiled over.

Trade minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere and Nyando MP Fred Outa were thrown out of the meeting hall after engaging in a heated exchange that sources said almost went physical.

At the end of the day, the MPs left more divided than they had arrived.

The more than 100 MPs failed to reach consensus on the way forward over the list of the 80 new constituencies with parliamentarians from various regions presenting opposing positions.

The MPs in support of the Ligale list, mainly drawn from Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western and North Eastern provinces demanded that the list of the 80 new constituencies be tabled in Parliament for adoption.

They challenged those opposed to the new boundaries to move amendments on the floor of the House so that their wishes could be incorporated in the final list to be adopted and later gazetted.

But the MPs opposed to the controversial list insisted that the Ligale Commission hands over its final report to the yet-to-be established Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which should review it afresh while incorporating the views of Kenyans, something they accused the defunct Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC) of ignoring.

It is in the course of these arguments that tempers boiled over, with the Trade minister repeatedly heckling Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno as he made his contribution.

Mr Outa then shot up and engaged Mr Mwakwere in a shouting match, ignoring repeated pleas from speaker Kenneth Marende to respect the forum.

It is then that the two MPs were thrown out. “You will not believe it, two MPs nearly came to blows and had to be expelled,” said a cabinet minister who sat in the meeting.

Emerging from the session after being expelled, Mr Mwakwere vowed to reject the list at every opportunity.

“They have stolen five constituencies from Coast province and we cannot allow it, I’ve told them it is unacceptable, let us dissolve Parliament and go for fresh elections,” he charged.

In his opening remarks, Mr Marende had warned the MPs that they risked losing their jobs unless they resolved the boundaries stalemate to which a section of MPs opposed to the Ligale team’s report responded that they were prepared for any eventuality.

The MPs from Central and Eastern provinces also flatly rejected a proposal that Parliament amends the constitution to extend the life of the Ligale team to enable it complete its term. They argued that unlike the Committee of Experts (CoE), the Ligale team had been given enough time to finish its task.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Affairs committee Ababu Namwamba had appeared to favour this option during his opening remarks but the Speaker and Abdikadir Mohammed, who chairs the Parliamentary Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee disagreed, saying it will be too premature to start amending the new constitution.

It will take an amendment to the new constitution to extend the life of the Ligale team, which lapsed on November 27.
“Amendment is just a proposal, I don’t think it can wash,” argued one MP who sat through the meeting.

The MPs opposed to the proposed amendment heavily argued in favour of the establishment of the new electoral and boundaries commission to take over the work of the Ligale team.

They claimed that Mr Ligale had used his political leanings to draw the new boundaries in favour of his former party, ODM.

But the two experts who spoke at the retreat, Prof F. Aduol and a Mr Johnstone Sakaja maintained that the Ligale team had to a large extent observed the parameters agreed upon during the Naivasha talks in regard to the delimitation of electoral boundaries and had only recorded a small margin of error.

An MP from Rift Valley, who favours the Ligale Commission’s report, told the Nation that they were for adopting the report in its current form but accused their central Kenya colleagues of pushing for the yet to be established IEBC.

“The view of the majority is that we finalise the report but central MPs want the work re-done,” the MP who sat through the meeting said.