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Push for Elachi’s impeachment now hangs in the balance

The push for impeachment of Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi is hanging in the balance, even as proponents of the censure motion insist the motion is set to be tabled this week.

This is after assembly deputy clerk in charge of administrative affairs Pauline Akuku dismissed the purported motion saying the office of the clerk is yet to be properly served with any notice of motion.

IMPEACHMENT MOTION

She said neither the new clerk Edward Gichana nor herself has not received any notice of motion for the removal from office of the Speaker, dismissing reports that Elachi has been suspended from performing functions due to her office.

Ms Akuku, a close ally of Elachi, further questioned the authenticity of a notice of impeachment motion letter by clerk Jacob Ngwele claiming it has used a letterhead that has been phased-out by the assembly.

But with the assembly still in court over who between Gichana and Jacob Ngwele is the bona-fide clerk and the deputy clerk in charge of legislative affairs on interdiction, the ouster motion faces another hurdle to see the light of the day.

This now leaves Akuku, a recent appointee of the Speaker, as the one in charge.

In order for the motion to proceed, the clerk of the assembly must first verify signatures collected in support of the motion.

SUSPENDED SITTINGS

“I wish to clarify that you (speaker) ignore any media reports suggesting that a notice of motion for your removal from office was issued and that you are curtailed from performing the functions of your office. You should treat such information as rumours, gossip and media hype and continue executing your functions unhindered,” a letter by Akuku addressed to Elachi reads in part.

Last week, Elachi suspended plenary sittings to September, just a day after her office was notified of the impeachment motion. In order for the impeachment motion to be tabled, the assembly must be in session.

However, Waithaka MCA Anthony Kiragu maintains that the assembly is still in session in accordance with its calendar which indicates that the House will break for recess on August 13, 2020.

“We are proceeding with the motion as the House has not adjourned. The House is adjourned by members and not by the Speaker. More so, the assembly has a calendar that has to be followed and as far as we are concerned, we are still in session,” said Mr Kiragu.

Deputy Majority Whip Waithera Chege said the Speaker stands suspended after they served her with the notice of the censure motion last week according to section 11(6) of the County Governments (Amendments) Act, 2020.

SPEAKER’S PANEL

The section states that the Speaker shall not perform any of the functions of the office of the Speaker pending the resolution of the county assembly.

Mr Kiragu now says that they will appoint a temporary chair to preside over the motion since the Speaker stands suspended and therefore has no role in deciding what goes to the floor of the house.

Elachi had also disbanded the Speaker’s panel and is yet to reconstitute it.

“We will appoint a temporary chair who will take over the functions of the speaker and proceed with the impeachment,” he said.

However, Elachi differs saying that a temporary Speaker cannot be appointed when both the Speaker and the deputy are still there and even if the Speaker was suspended then the Deputy Speaker should be the one chairing the proceedings.

“In the new Act, the Deputy Speaker’s position has been strengthened who can only be removed on the same grounds as the Speaker. You cannot do anything if the Speaker and the deputy is there,” she said, adding that she is still in office as she is yet to be properly notified of the impeachment motion.