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December 10, 2018

Muturi suspends House committee sittings as MPs go on recess

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi in Parliament on November 22, 2018. /JACK OWUOR
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi in Parliament on November 22, 2018. /JACK OWUOR

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has suspended, effective December 11, all committee sittings to February 12 next year. 

He said this will be exception of the Public Accounts and Public Investments committee which will resume sittings on January 28, 2019. 

Muturi, in a communication to the House, said the two committees will resume their activities earlier than the others due to the nature of their mandates.

"Honorable Members, the suspension is to allow you to spend valuable time with your families during the holiday season and also attend to your constituents," Muturi said.

"In addition, this will avail the staff of Parliament an opportunity to take their annual leave and also begin preparations for the next Session."

In his message, Muturi commended the MPs for their diligence and commitment to the business of the House throughout the second session of the twelfth Parliament.

Parliament went into recess on Thursday after MPs failed to vote on the Parliamentary Service Bill, 2018 for lack of quorum.

The House will resume sittings on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, at 2.30pm. Of concern then will be the unfinished Gender Bill business. 

"Pursuant to Standing Order No.35 (2)(a), the House is not properly constituted for purposes of conducting business and I therefore, order that we do adjourn the House," Third Chairperson of Committees Jessica Mbalu said. 

Before going on recess, MPs were expected to take the Parliamentary Service Bill through its Third Reading and vote.

The lack of quorum that ensured this does not happen was seemingly informed by President Uhuru Kenyatta's open declaration that he would not assent to the bill.

If passed, all the 349 MPs would have access to rent-free housing, a government vehicle, an expanded medical cover among other benefits.

But on Wednesday, Uhuru was categorical that he would not sign the bill that would in effect hand the Parliamentary Service Commission the powers to decide MPs' perks.

"I hear there are people there planning to pass certain things but Kenyans have said they are tired of leaders increasing their salaries all the time....and I will stand with Kenyans," Uhuru said in Kiambu during the "Rais Mashinani" initiative launch. 

Read: I won't sign Bill increasing pay for MPs, Uhuru declares

The Gender Bill vote was deferred on November 28 for lack of quorum. This was after the House failed to get the 233 members required to vote in support of the Bill.

Only 222 members were in the chambers at the start of the debate. Muturi accepted Majority Leader Aden Duale's request to defer voting on the legislation that seeks to nominate more women to parliament to meet the Constitutional Two-thirds gender rule.

Read: House defers vote on Gender Bill to 2019 amid quorum hitch

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