Kenya row cripples EA regional assembly

Monday June 5 2017

EALA in session. PHOTO | FILE

East African Legislative Assembly in session. Kenya was issued a notice on January 24 to start electing new nominees to the regional assembly but is yet to finalise the process five months later. PHOTO | FILE 

By SAMWEL OWINO, Daily Nation

Protracted political battles between Kenya's ruling Jubilee coalition and the Opposition over nominees to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) is now set to paralyse the operations of the regional assembly.

Although the nominees from other member states were to be sworn in Monday in Arusha, no business was expected to take place.

Despite Kenya being given notice on January 24 to start the process of electing new nominees so as to avoid any vacuum when the assembly starts holding its sittings, it has not finalised the process, five months later.


Kenya’s delay in electing its members has been brought about by a deadlock between the Jubilee and Cord coalitions.

While Jubilee is pushing Cord to add seven names to the four it had already identified, Cord opposes that, and wants changes made to the report of the joint committee overseeing the elections, which had recommended that Cord’s nominees be increased.

There is already a dilemma on how this would proceed, as the Senate last week rejected Cord’s proposed amendments to the report of the joint committee.

Cord leaders have accused their Jubilee counterparts of playing underhand tactics to push the election of Kenya’s representatives until after the next General Election.


Majority Leader of Kenya's National Assembly Aden Duale said that Cord should blame itself for its inability to get its members into the House last Thursday to amend the report.

The Nation has also learnt that a section of Orange Democratic Movement lawmakers who lost in the nominations are plotting a revenge against the party’s election board chairperson Judith Pareno, whom they have not forgiven after the party primaries.

The MPs, led by Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo have vowed to shoot down the nomination of Ms Pareno to Eala, accusing her of presiding over their downfall in the primaries.

“If we allow somebody to sit in a hotel room and come up with the names and then ask the National Assembly to rubber-stamp, then you would have killed democracy. If you are a person who can commit crimes against some of us and we are made to look like losers, then it is wrong,” said Mr Midiwo last month when the Opposition names were taken to the National Assembly.


Mr Midiwo, who lost in the ODM nominations for Gem constituency claimed that he was rigged out, and will defend his seat as an independent candidate.

The opposition scheme to present the four names was strategic, so as to tie the hands of the opposition MPs in confirming the list.

Jubilee is said to have so far comfortably settled on three names, Mr Pius Atok, former CEO of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce, Mr Simon Mbugua and Mr Justin Bundi.

It seems like the standoff will continue for some time, as on Wednesday, the Opposition vowed to retain its list of candidates for the regional assembly despite pressure from Jubilee to add names, while it also dropped its bid to change the report requiring it to do so. 


Minority Whip Thomas Mwadeghu formally withdrew Cord’s amendments to the report of the joint committee overseeing the election of members of the regional assembly, enabling the adoption of the report. 

“After due consultations and taking into account that the Senate did pass this report without amendments, I wish to withdraw the amendments,” said Mr Mwadeghu. 

He said that with the rejection of the report, meaning it would only be taken back to the House after a minimum six months, there would be no point pushing through the unpopular suggestion.