Uhuru summons Parliament ahead of ICC Status Conference
President Uhuru Kenyatta has summoned the National Assembly and the Senate for a special sitting on Monday afternoon, just two days before his date with the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The subject of the joint-sitting to be held at the main chamber of Parliament buildings in Nairobi was not specified, but the timing is telling.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, yesterday told The Standard on Saturday that he had received the letter from State House calling MPs to the meeting, and that he had consequently told the clerk to make arrangements for the sitting.
“I received the letter. We are preparing a special notice to be published in the Kenya Gazette to call the special joint sitting of both Houses on Monday at 3pm. The Gazette notice will be out shortly,” said Muturi.
The notice was published in the afternoon citing article 132(1)(b) of the Constitution, which obligates the President to address Parliament once every year or at any given time when he needs to. The House rules too, permit the President to ask the Speaker at any given time for an opportunity to address Parliament.
Monday’s address will be the third time the President will be speaking to MPs. MPs and senators are currently on recess and the extra-ordinary sitting for Monday, echoes a similar emergency sitting that happened on September 5, last year, when the two Houses approved a resolution asking the government to begin the process of pulling Kenya out of the Rome Statute; the mechanism that binds the country to the ICC.
The resolution, fronted by the Majority Leader Aden Duale, in the National Assembly and Senate’s Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki, was approved, but its execution is still on ice after the Executive thought acting on it might jeopardise the President’s case at the ICC.
It is expected that in the Monday meeting, the President will inevitably explain to the MPs, senators and the country if he will be taking the flight to The Hague, Netherlands, to attend the court case facing him for crimes against humanity.
Kenyatta was charged with having a role in the violence that rocked the country six years ago after a botched election. If he is not going, the President will also explain why.
The content of the President’s speech is confidential, for now, but he might also be expected to give the Executive’s position on the new rule to have Cabinet Secretaries appear before a committee of the whole House.
The President’s notice to Parliament came on the day when a Cabinet Secretary, MPs, and senators thronged The Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi to seek travel visas in readiness for Wednesday’s status conference to The Hague.
The lawmakers of both Houses were drawn from the Jubilee Coalition and the opposition’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD). Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu, one of the three politicians in President Kenyatta’s Cabinet, was among those who went to the embassy, located on Riverside Drive, Lavington, yesterday to secure the visa to accompany her boss. The MPs oozed confidence that ICC will drop the charges facing Kenya’s Head of State during the status conference. Speaking to journalists outside the Dutch Embassy yesterday, they said the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, had failed to show the court why Kenya’s President should bear the blame for the violence and deaths that happened in the country six years ago.
Yesterday, in Ndundori in Nyandarua County, President Kenyatta appealed for calm as the date for his meeting with the ICC judges inched closer. “Tuko na imani na hayo maneno mengine munayoyasikia tutamaliza, shughulikeni na ujenzi wa taifa kwanza (We are hopeful that we will overcome all those other issues that you have been hearing about; let us concentrate on developing our nation),” said President Kenyatta.
The Head of State spoke after attending the burial ceremony of the late Joseph Kimemia, the father of the Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia. Leaders who accompanied the president at the funeral exuded confidence that the case against him would come to an end.
Senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Muriuki Karue (Nyandarua) asked the President not to bother so much about the case as it was a small challenge that he will overcome.
“You know this is a political case and it will soon be over,” said Murkomen.
MPs Maison Leshomo (Samburu), David Kiaraho (Ol Kalou), Wanjiku Muhia (Nyandarua), Samuel Gichigi (Kipipiri), Mary Wambui (Othaya) and Maina Kamanda (Starehe) all promised to stand by the President at The Hague.
In Nairobi, Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau, said Uhuru would prove the prosecution wrong on a number of issues .
“There is no case there. President Kenyatta has made a wise decision to honour the summons as this will prove that we are law-abiding citizens. We have to show solidarity as his friends,” Kamau said.
The prosecution has already given up on the witnesses’ evidence. However, Bensouda insists the personal records are relevant to a central allegation in the case. At the Dutch embassy in Nairobi, the MPs and other leaders came to beat the little time left to secure visas.
Kajiado Central MP Joseph Nkaissery of ODM said Uhuru’s trial was the ‘country’s trial’ :”I am going there despite being in the opposition to show solidarity. This is a national issue.”
President Uhuru will, on Wednesday next week at 11am (Kenyan time), be seated at the courtroom as the first sitting Head of State to appear before the court.
– Reports by Alphonce Shiundu, Kamau Muthoni, James Munyeki.