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Vihiga MCAs withdraw plan to impeach Governor Ottichilo

Thursday March 12 2020
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Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo greets students who benefited from county scholarships. MCAs have withdrawn an impeachment plan against him and instead opted for mediation. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DERICK LUVEGA

It is a reprieve for Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo after MCAs withdrew the impeachment plan against him and instead opted for mediation.

Majority Whip Victor Ijaika on Thursday confirmed the withdrawal, saying it follows a series of meetings between the county assembly, religious leaders and elders.

Dr Ottichilo had earlier moved to the High Court in Kakamega seeking orders to bar the assembly from tabling and proceeding with the impeachment motion. A ruling on his application will be delivered on March 20.

MEETING PLANNED

MCAs will now hold a Kamukunji (informal meeting) with the governor at the assembly buildings next week to iron out outstanding issues, Mr Ijaika said on Thursday.

While withdrawing the impeachment plan, Mr Ijaika – who was leading 23 ward representatives in drafting the ouster motion – said it had stalled county operations and caused animosity between the Maragoli and Bunyore, the county's two main sub-tribes.

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"Yes, we have reached a decision to withdraw it. We have had a number of engagements over the past one week. We met elders and religious leaders and offered to reach an amicable resolution of the stalemate," said Mr Ijaika.

TONE DOWN

The Wamuluma/Lugaga MCA further said the assembly’s Speaker Hasna Mudeizi advised the ward representatives to tone down on the matter.

"The impeachment plan was brewing a lot of animosity and was causing tension. Members agreed to tone down and find other ways (to address issues raised) rather than going the impeachment way," Mr Ijaika said.

The MCAs had accused Dr Ottichilo of abuse of office, imprudent use of public funds, massive sackings of county staff, failure to pay pending bills, exaggeration of the value of land meant for building the governor's residence and irregular hiring of workers.

Already, 23 out of the 38 MCAs had appended their signatures in support of the impeachment motion.

PENDING BILLS PAID

But on Thursday, Mr Ijaika said Dr Ottichilo's administration had started addressing some of the issues they had raised in their impeachment motion, which had not yet been tabled in the assembly.

He noted that the county government had begun paying pending bills, saying that Sh139 million had already been wired to bank accounts of various contractors.

"Pending bills are already being paid. Sh139 million has already been paid and the second payment is underway. Something is being done and so we must give credit (to the governor). Our push is yielding fruit," said Mr Ijaika.

He said MCAs and the governor have agreed to enhance oversight on the executive, particularly on county ministers and chief officers.

Following the initiation of the impeachment, five MCAs – mainly from Governor Ottichilo's Bunyore backyard – were de-whipped from assembly committees’ leadership for opposing the ouster plan.

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