Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika has gazetted September 21 for the county assembly to convene its first sitting, amid jostling for the Speaker position.
The 75 members of county assemblies (MCAs) will be sworn in that day and proceed to elect their Speaker and a deputy. 41 members are under the United Democratic Alliance, seven independents, six from Jubilee, one from Safina and 20 nominated.
A former Biashara ward MCA Joel Karuri is being touted as a top contender in the crowded list of candidates eyeing the speaker’s position.
Karuri, the immediate former chairman to the Budget Committee and Appropriations Committee was trounced by Elijah Chege of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) in the August 9 polls.
Outgoing Deputy Speaker Mr Samuel Tonui (UDA), who retained his Nessuit Ward seat, confirmed to Kenya News Agency that he would be seeking to defend his position when the House reconvenes.
He indicated that six candidates gunning for the speaker’s position have been holding meetings with MCAs.
According to Tonui, those eyeing the speaker’s slot include former Kuresoi Member of Parliament James Cheruiyot, immediate former vocal Kabazi MCA Dr. Peter Mbae and former Executive Committee Member Anne Njenga.
The jostling for other positions of Majority Leader, Minority Leader and their deputies, Chief Whip Majority and Chief Whip Minority and their deputies and committee chairpersons has also intensified.
County assemblies had to delay holding their first sittings as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) took longer to gazette a list of nominated MCAs.
The delay by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to gazette the ward reps meant that no governor could officially summon the first county assembly sitting.
The law does not allow any county assembly to sit before they are fully or properly constituted, Nakuru advocate and former Migori County Assembly Speaker, Gordon Ogolla said.
Mr Ogolla said a House is fully constituted when both elected and nominated members have been gazetted by the IEBC. This paves the way for the governor to gazette the date and place of the first sitting.
“The governor has 30 days from the date of the full constitution of the assembly to gazette its first sitting. The two are part of critical amendments in the County Governments Act,” Ogolla added.
This, he explained, is unlike the National Assembly and the Senate, which can hold sittings without nominated members.
According to Section 7(1) of the County Governments (Amendments) Act, 2020, full membership of the county assembly comprises elected members, special seat members, six members drawn from marginalized groups, that is people living with disabilities and the youth, and the Speaker.
“A county assembly shall not be fully and duly constituted for the first sitting after a General Election unless all the members provided for under paragraphs (b) and (c) of Article 177(1) of the Constitution have been duly nominated and their names published in the Gazette,” that section of the Act says.
Article 177 of the Constitution states that a county assembly consists of members elected by the registered voters of the wards, each ward constituting a single member constituency; special seat members necessary to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of the assembly are of the same gender; members of marginalized groups, including persons with disabilities and the youth, prescribed by an Act of Parliament; and the Speaker, who is an ex officio member.
Whenever a new county assembly is elected, the law further says, the governor, by notice in the Kenya Gazette, shall set the venue and date of the first sitting, which shall not be more than 30 days from the date on which the county assembly shall be fully constituted as per section 7A.
By Jane Ngugi and Rachael Wangari