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September 21, 2017

NASA MPs to boycott Uhuru House address

ODM Chairman John Mandi addressing media at Wiper headquarters in Nairobi after NASA parliamentary group meeting on September 6,2017.Photo Emmanuel Wanson
ODM Chairman John Mandi addressing media at Wiper headquarters in Nairobi after NASA parliamentary group meeting on September 6,2017.Photo Emmanuel Wanson

NASA MPs yesterday said they will stage a “mass no-show” in Parliament when President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses a joint sitting of the bicameral House tomorrow.

Minority whip-designate Opiyo Wandayi led calls to “empty-chair” Uhuru, saying they cannot sit and listen to a lameduck President.

“We as members of NASA, and myself for that matter, find it politically untenable to sit in Parliament and listen to a person against whom my party leader is competing,” he said.

Uhuru is scheduled to deliver a speech to members of the National Assembly and the Senate in his official opening of the 12th Parliament.

The Constitution requires the President to address each newly elected Parliament within 30 days after the swearing-in of MPs as provided for in the House Standing Orders.

The special joint sitting of Parliament is usually an opportunity for an elected President to outline his government’s agenda. But this would be unlikely as Uhuru is facing a fresh presidential election against NASA leader Raila Odinga on October 17.

In his usual stinging criticism of the President, Wandayi poured scorn on Uhuru’s decision to address Parliament at a time when he is a temporary head of state.

“The writers of the Constitution did not envisage a situation where a lameduck President, a limping president for that matter, would come to address Parliament when he is at the same time on the campaign trail,” Wandayi said.

“Nowhere in the Constitution and the Standing Orders do we find anything untoward would happen if the President doesn’t address the opening of a new Parliament.”

Behaving like activists

Professionals have urged NASA to drop its hardline position and allow the President to perform his constitutional mandate.

“The threats are misguided because there is no vacuum in the office of the President. The Constitution allows the President to perform his duties until the next President is sworn in,” Nyakweba Osoro said. The patron of the Gusii elders and chairman of the Gusii Professionals’ Association urged NASA to offer leadership in line with the rule of law and “stop behaving like activists”.

But Busia woman representative Florence Mutua said, “That we in NASA are going to sit in Parliament and follow through the speech of a man, who has clawed back the democratic gains we have made as a country, is a big joke.”

ODM chairman John Mbadi said he will not attend.

He urged NASA legislators to boycott. “I cannot sit through it. As NASA, we have no business attending Tuesday’s session as we would be out there campaigning,” the Suba South MP said.

But youthful South Mugiramgo MP Sylvanus Osoro told the Star he had yet to receive a “signal” from the NASA leadership.

“We are only hearing it through the media, but we are consulting broadly, including getting the views of our electorate before we make a decision,” he said.

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