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September 25, 2017

NASA MPs could easily lose seats if they boycott eight sittings

National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi during the swearing-in  of MPs in Parliament, August 31, 2017. HEZRON NJOROGE
National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi during the swearing-in of MPs in Parliament, August 31, 2017. HEZRON NJOROGE

NASA MPs boycotting parliamentary business could easily lose their seats if they miss eight sittings without the authority of speakers.

The standing orders (rules and regulations governing parliamentary business) require a member intending to be absent to seek written permission from the speaker.

Protesting NASA MPs have not done this but have vowed to continue with their "mass no-show" in the plenary and committees, claiming the 12th Parliament is “illegally convened” by a ‘temporary President."

In the constitution, temporary incumbency starts from the day of the presidential election to the date when the next president takes an oath of office.

Opposition legislators have said the annulment of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election by the Supreme Court denies him the legitimacy and constitutional mandate to perform functions of the president as outlined in the constitution.

[VIDEO] Uhuru is still your president, Duale tells NASA on MPs' swearing-in

The NASA lawmakers are charged but they could find themselves back to the ballot if they miss the minimum number of sitting members are allowed without the speaker’s permission.

MPs hold four sittings in the plenary every week-one Tuesday, double on Wednesday and a single one on Thursday.

“A member seeking to be absent from sitting of the House shall seek the written permission of the speaker in such a form as the speaker may determine, stating the period of absence, the reasons and any other relevant information,” reads Standing Order number 257(A).

The clerk is required to keep custody of all the requests for permission and may disclose the information with the written consent of the speaker.

The speaker is required to trigger the process of declaring a seat vacant once he gets information from the clerk that a member could have missed eight sittings in a session.

“If during any session, a member is absent from eight sittings of the National Assembly without permission, in writing from the speaker, the speaker shall report the matter to the National Assembly and the matter shall stand referred to the committee of privileges for hearing and determination,” reads the Standing Orders.

Read: NASA MPs to boycott Uhuru House address as he lacks legitimacy — Weta

Also read: NASA MPs to boycott Uhuru House address

The committee will have 14 days to inquire into the circumstances under which a member absconded sittings without written permission from the speaker.

If satisfied that the member failed to offer a satisfactory explanation, the committee shall then submit a report to the House for debate and ratification by MPs. The report shall not be subject to any amendments.

“At the conclusion of debate…….the speaker shall not put a question but shall declare that, pursuant to Article 103(1) (b) of the Constitution, the office of the member concerned has become vacant,” reads Standing Orders.

On Tuesday, the Opposition MPs "empty-chaired" Uhuru during the brief official opening of Parliament ritual, saying he remains “lame-duck” until a proper presidential election is done and a new president is sworn in.

IEBC has scheduled a repeat Presidential election for October 17.

But Article 132(1a) of the Constitution states: “The President shall address the opening of each newly elected Parliament."

This must be done within 30 days after the swearing-in of new MPs, according to the Standing Orders. The MPs were sworn in on August 31 and started the first session of the 12th Parliament on Tuesday. The session runs until December.

On Wednesday, NASA principal Meses Wetang'ula said they will carry on with the boycotts in their push for justice.

More on this: Weta announces NASA Dandora rally, says Mudavadi has not quit

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