Saturday, 27 December 2014

Senators recalled to discuss terror laws

The Senate will hold a special sitting on Tuesday afternoon to deliberate on the manner MPs passed the controversial security laws, which President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to last week.
The lawmakers will, during the sitting called by Speaker Ekwee Ethuro, specifically discuss their exclusion in the passage of the law.  
The senators, who are on holiday, will try to find a common position on the contentious piece of legislation passed acrimoniously in the National Assembly.
Senators and MPs have been at loggerheads for the better part of this year over the manner Bills are passed in the National Assembly without involving the Senate.
The passage of the security laws sets the stage for another round of supremacy battle between the two Houses.
Senators, mostly from the Opposition, have faulted the passage of the Bill, saying the Senate should have been involved because it touched on counties. Their Jubilee counterparts have been largely silent.
The Speaker recalled the lawmakers in a Special Gazette Notice dated December 23. Mr Ethuro on Friday confirmed the sitting saying it had been requested by Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula.
“We have only one agenda. To deliberate on the security laws. The sitting will be on Tuesday afternoon,” he said.
Mr Wetang’ula led a group of senators who vehemently opposed the Security Laws (Amendment) Act. It is expected that the Opposition senators will question why the House was not involved in the passage of the Bill.
Article 110 (3) of the Constitution requires the Speakers of the National Assembly and Senate to discuss Bills before being tabled in either Houses.
The purpose is to determine if a Bill concerns counties or whether it is an ordinary Bill.  However, this has rarely happened putting the two Houses on collision course.
Recently, Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki wrote to President Kenyatta asking him not to assent to the Mining Bill claiming that the House had not been involved yet the proposed law had provisions touching on counties.
Mr Justice Isaac Lenaola on Wednesday granted the government five days to respond to a petition by Cord and another by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) challenging the new laws.
KNCHR and Cord argue that the Act is unconstitutional since it lacked public participation, failure to engage the Senate despite the Bill touching on county governments and MPs engaged in shameful conduct while passing the laws, thus, violating parliamentary standing orders. Cord and the rights body want the implementation of the law suspended.

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