30,000 petitioners want Homa Bay to be dissolved

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti before the Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee on May 30 /JACK OWUOR
Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti before the Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee on May 30 /JACK OWUOR

A Homa Bay lobby wants the county government dissolved and a fresh election held.

In a petition signed by more than 30,000 voters, Homa Bay Bunge la Wenye Nchi asks President Uhuru Kenyatta to appoint an independent agency to run the county in an interim basis.

The civil society group has accused county leaders of poor leadership. Residents are deprived of development and that is hurting many sectors of the economy, it says.

The county has been embroiled in wrangles and court battles. Last year, 47 of 60 MCAs impeached Speaker Elizabeth Ayoo. A court reinstated her, pending conclusion of a case she filed. The MCAs had accused Ayoo of orchestrating chaos in the assembly during which deputy serjeant-at-arms Idah Arodi was arrested and charged.

The push and shove has disrupted assembly operations. It undermines oversight and derails legislation needed to support growth projects.

Another battle pits Governor Cyprian Awiti against his rival Oyugi Magwanga. Awiti appealed a court ruling that nullified his reelection. The Supreme Court will soon decide.

The lobby has blamed the Awiti administration for lack of development, corruption and loss of funds. The governor has previously denied wrongdoing and told his critics to report to the authorities if they have evidence.

Yesterday, lobby speaker Walter Opiyo said residents have responded enthusiastically to their calls for a new election. They are tired of failed leadership and want leaders who can fix their problems, he said.

Opiyo said they will not be intimidated in their quest for justice.

He accused leaders he did not name of threatening them to drop the initiative. Some fear losing their positions and even tried to have the booklets with the signatures burnt, he said.

“We’re happy with the progress. People are yearning for better services. More people are still yearning to sign,” Opiyo said.

Lobby communications officer Peter Muga warned leaders against interfering with the drive. He said they are acting within the law and will defy all efforts to scare them.

The Constitution provides that the President may suspend a county government in an emergency arising out of internal conflict, war, or in any other exceptional circumstances. In the latter provision, the President has to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations against the county government.

The President must also be satisfied that the allegations are justified and the Senate has to authorise the suspension, which must not exceed 90 days. During a suspension, arrangements are made to run the county and provide services as usual.

The Senate may at any time terminate a suspension. An election for the county government is held at the expiry of the period and new leaders sworn into office.