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Kenya Parliament Speaker to Rule Thursday on the Reappointment of Embattled Ex-Finance Minister

Kenya's speaker of parliament is expected to rule Thursday on the re-appointment of an embattled former finance minister into the cabinet of the unity government. President Mwai Kibaki appointed Amos Kimunya as a cabinet minister despite a The former finance minister was alleged to have been complicit in graft over the controversial sale of the Regency Hotel to Libyan businessmen. A Parliamentary Committee on Finance investigated the hotel and ruled that Kimunya was unfit to be a Cabinet minister and advised President Kibaki not to reappoint him. Kenyan lawmaker Gitobu Imanyara told reporter Peter Clottey that Kimunya's reappointment is a slap in the face of all Kenyans.

"It is true that as a result of issues raised by members of parliament regarding Amos Kimunya's reappointment to cabinet, the speaker would be making a communication from the chair which is called a ruling on whether that appointment contravenes the principles of the separation of powers. And number two the president is in contempt of parliament because it is parliament that passed a resolution of no confidence in Kimunya before he was relieved of his ministerial position. And thereafter parliament appointed a finance committee to investigate the circumstances under which the Grand Regency hotel was sold to the Libyans," Imanyara noted.

He said the outcome of the parliamentary committee's investigation into the controversial sale of the hotel didn't absolve the former finance minister of any wrongdoing.

"The report of that committee haven't been tabled before the house has not been debated and yet the president who is also a member of parliament proceeded to act in contempt or in anticipation of the result of the vote of the members of parliament by returning Kimunya to parliament," he said.

Imanyara agrees with the assertion that President Kibaki's appointment of the embattled former minister is distasteful.

"I'm with that group of Kenyans that sees this in that light. I think it is not just a slap in the face of parliament, but it is also contempt of the people of Kenya for two reasons. One, the president himself is a member of parliament and is therefore bound by the resolutions of the house and he ignored and proceeds to name the disgraced minister to his cabinet. Don't forget that the president himself through an executive order appointed a former chief justice to investigate the same issue that the parliamentary committee had investigated," Imanyara pointed out.

He said the president's appointed commission of inquiry to look into the controversial sale of the hotel blamed the former finance minister for the way the sale was carried out.

"That commission presented the report to the president and the president has not made that report public. He had not told the Kenyan people the commission had cleared Kimunya. But we know it did not clear him because the leaked copies clearly show that the judges who conducted that inquiry held Kimunya responsible for misleading or lying to parliament," he said.

Imanyara said the constitutional implications of the president's action would have far reaching consequences.

"Clearly, it has far reaching implications because in our system of government we have incorporated the concept of the separation of powers just like from the American perspective. And when parliament takes one decision as the legislative arm of government, it is independent of the executive. Therefore for the president to ignore one arm of the government is triggering a very deep constitutional crisis, unprecedented in nature and this is what we are saying is unacceptable at a time when we are trying to re-write the Kenyan constitution to end the culture of impunity," Imanyara pointed out.

Some lawmakers petitioned Speaker Kenneth Marende to rule on Kimunya's reappointment, even after a vote of no confidence was passed against him over the controversial sale of the Regency Hotel to Libyan businessmen, which was alleged to have been a corrupt deal.

They contended that no independent institution or commission has cleared Kimunya from the grounds that culminated in his removal. Speaker Marende called for a sober reflection and described the reappointment of Kimunya and the surrounding circumstances as weighty.

Some Kenyans have been wondering what the constitutional implications would be following Kibaki's reappointment of Kimunya, especially after law makers passed a vote of no confidence in the former finance minister.

In a parliamentary deliberation yesterday (Wednesday), Imanyara preyed the Speaker to give the way forward as Kimunya had not been cleared over his involvement in the controversial sale of the Grand Regency.

But the Cockar Commission of inquiry, which investigated the hotel sale is said to have absolved Kimunya of any wrongdoing. The commission however ruled that the Regency hotel had been undervalued and that the Treasury should have done more to advise the Central Bank over the deal.