National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi Tuesday night called another Special Sitting Thursday, minutes after a chaotic session where the Opposition Cord MPs blocked their determined Jubilee counterparts from passing contested laws that will govern the 2017 General Election.
The Thursday sitting, Mr Muturi said, will “commence from the debate disrupted on Tuesday December 20.”
“Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 29(3) of the National Assembly, it is notified for the information of members and the general public, that two special sittings of the Assembly shall be held in the National Assembly Chamber in the Main Parliament Buildings on Thursday, December 22,” Mr Muturi said in his notice, quickly circulated on social media.
The Tuesday session ended in disarray after Cord MPs said that the sitting could not be extended past the 6.30 pm time, and that no member had asked for an extension 30 minutes before the scheduled time.
And in a case of once bitten, twice shy, Mr Muturi in his notice specified the times for the sittings, unlike his summons for Tuesday sitting.
“ . . . At 9.30 am and at 2.30 pm and terminating at 1pm in the case of morning sitting and not later than midnight in the case of the afternoon sitting,” said the notice.
The House, Mr Muturi said, will discuss only the amendments to Elections Act (2011) and the Election Campaign Financing Act (2013), as well as the third reading of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015.
ODM chairman John Mbadi (Suba) Wednesday morning told the Nation that the calling of the Thursday sitting was “the biggest sign yet, of Jubilee inviting chaos.”
“Jubilee has lost direction and is behaving like a wounded lion,” Mr Mbadi said.
“You cannot call a Special Sitting today and say it will be there tomorrow.”
The MP added: “We will either stop rigging before it happens or we will not have elections in 2017.”
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi dismissed as ‘totally irregular” the summons for the sitting.
“The Government Printer does not work at night. That it produced a notice at 11pm, is the gravest manifestation of impunity,” said Mr Wandayi.
But Kiharu MP Irungu Kang’ata said that the notice was still a “rumour” and will be confirmed to the Jubilee legislators when they attend a State House meeting called by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday night, MPs haggled for about an hour on whether or not they should extend the sitting to midnight, as the Jubilee team argued that the December 20- the day of the sitting- ends at 11.59 pm.
But Cord MPs Junet Mohamed (Suna East), John Mbadi (Suba), Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem), Agostinho Neto of Ndhiwa, Olago Aluoch (Kisumu West), Dalmas Otieno (Rongo) and Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i) vehemently opposed the proposal to extend the sitting.
After push and pull, Mr Muturi invoked Standing Order 256 – that allows any member at any time and without notice to ask for an extension of time- to prolong the session by a total of 55 minutes after 7. 49 pm.
But 20 minutes into the 55 minutes added time, MPs from both sides of the divide rose and went to the centre of the House, pulling each other in an apparent attempt to grab the Mace.
The Mace is an eight kilogramme gold plated symbol that must be in the House before any business is transacted.
And a series of ugly events quickly followed.
A live broadcast from the Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit was cut off, journalists blocked from accessing the gallery, and the chamber cordoned off, even for senators who were standing outside.
At 8.30pm, Speaker Muturi walked out of the chamber with the Mace, a sign of the end of the sitting, quickly followed by energized Cord MPs who jumped in victorious songs, chanting “We are the People!”
“The Speaker has, for the first time today, made a very important ruling of adjourning the House, although very late,” Mr Mbadi, also ODM chairman, told journalists.
“This is a big win for the people of Kenya and it is the beginning of liberation.”
But about an hour later, Speaker Muturi sent out a special gazette notice recalling the House on Thursday for another sitting.