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Public views sought on Bill to sack AG

The public has been invited to contribute to debate on a Bill giving Parliament powers to initiate the sacking of the Attorney General (AG).

In an advertisement in the Daily Nation on Thursday, the new Clerk of the National Assembly, Michael Sialai, says the submissions on the Office of the Attorney General (Amendment) Bill should be in Parliament by February 10.

“The principal Act provides for only one mechanism for the removal of the Attorney General by the President, the appointing authority under whose pleasure the Attorney General serves. The proposed amendment therefore seeks to safeguard the National Assembly’s role in reviewing the conduct of State Officers and initiating their removal from office,” said Mr Sialai.

The Bill has already undergone the First Reading—its formal introduction into the legislative pipeline—and has been committed to the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs (JLAC) for scrutiny and public participation.

If passed, the law would provide for individuals unhappy with the performance of the AG to petition the National Assembly to have the holder of the office removed.

Some in the corridors of power see the Bill as part of an attempt to remove Prof Githu Muigai, the current Attorney General, from power. They see the timing of the debate on the Bill as suspect given that it was published last year and has been lying idle.

But in a previous interview with the Daily Nation, JLAC chairman Samuel Chepkong’a said there was no malice in the proposed law.

“You know, there is only a procedure for the appointment of the Attorney General. There is no procedure for his removal in legislation. The legislation was crafted in a manner to suggest the holder is a perpetual holder of the office because there is no clause for removal,” said Mr Chepkong’a.

He said the JLAC realised this in 2014 when the Law Society of Kenya petitioned the National Assembly to initiate the removal of Prof Githu Muigai over his handling of Anglo Leasing matters.

“This was on the basis that no legal procedure was provided in the legislation on the removal of the Attorney General. He doesn’t have a term and a procedure for removal,” said Mr Chepkong’a.

Because his nomination is approved by the National Assembly and he represents Kenya at international forums, JLAC was also seeking to have a way through which Kenyans unhappy with his performance can initiate his removal.

Mr Chepkong’a said the Solicitor-General was left out of the Bill because he is the equivalent of a Principal Secretary and is in fact the accounting officer of the State Law Office.

When the Law Society of Kenya initiated the attempt to remove Prof Muigai, it proposed that the National Assembly employ the same process used for the removal of a Cabinet Secretary.

“It was only that the preparation of the Bill took longer than planned,” said Mr Chepkong’a.

The AG is nominated by the President and approved by the National Assembly.

In the Constitution, the AG is designated the principal legal adviser to the government with the mandate to represent it in court or any other legal proceedings where the government is a party.

The President can also confer any other functions on him.

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