8 countries ban Kenyan MCAs from visiting

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MCAsEIGHT European and African countries have banned Kenya’s members of county assemblies from visiting them.

The countries have complained they have received too many and too large delegations from Kenya, some of which “are not of any value to our bilateral relationship”, as one nation put it.

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The United States, Rwanda, Israel, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, the Netherlands and Brazil have all complained about the MCA delegations.

Yesterday Foreign Affairs PS Karanja Kibicho confirmed that the eight nations have officially written to Kenya complaining about the many visits and peculiar behavior of MCAs.

“It is true a number of countries have raised issues about the frequency and the size of Kenyan delegations,” Kibicho told the Star yesterday.

MCAs have made an unquantified but large number of visits to the foreign nations, allegedly on “development benchmarking” missions.

In some cases, MCAs have masqueraded as Members of Parliament and abused the hospitality extended to them by the host countries.

Nearly all the MCAs from the 47 counties have visited Rwanda, Singapore South Africa, Israel and the Netherlands many times.

Now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade wants the trips reduced and restricted on the grounds that they have little to do with the regional development agenda.

The national government has started developing regulations and a code of conduct to guide county representatives on foreign trips.

The regulations and the code will set the frequency and the number of county officials who will be allowed to travel on a foreign trip.

The government is worried that Kenya’s international reputation is now at risk as a number of county officials are also masquerading as Kenyans ambassadors.

“It is of concern to the national government as complaints have been filed at the Ministry that some officials from the county governments masquerade, when on foreign trips, as ambassadors or senior government officials.

“Naturally, such government officials should be provided with security from the airport,” a senior official at the Ministry who did not want to be named told the Star.

“We have alerted the Council of Governors and we are now developing a code and regulations concerning official visits abroad by any arm of government,” Kibicho said.

Council of Governors Chairman Isaac Rutto said the regional body will support the new move by the national government to regulate the foreign trips, saying Foreign Affairs is not a devolved function.

Rutto said he was informed of the complaints by the Ministry as early as January this year.

Rutto however said the council is not against the MCAs traveling out of the country, but advised that only relevant committees should go on such trips as opposed to the entire House traveling.

“We don’t have any issue with MCAs traveling out of the country. If they want to go on such trips, then it should not be a tour but should be related to their legislative business,” Rutto said.

“It is a joke for the whole Assembly to travel at a go. Some are planning such trips only because they have never traveled; such trips are expensive,” he added.

Speakers Forum Chairman Abdi Nuhu defended the MCAs, saying the trips are part of the work and should not be regulated.

He said the forum, an umbrella body for all MCAs and county speakers, has yet to receive any complaints from the national government.

“If there are people masquerading as MPs,that I am not aware of. It should come out that MCAS perform the same roles as our counterparts in the Senate or National Assembly do and they have the same rights and privileges,” he said on the phone.

– the-star.co.ke

FREQUENT FLYERS: MCAs attend a forum at Mombasa?s Flamingo Hotel in March this year. Photo/Elkana Jacob

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