COVID-19: Parliament suspends sittings

MPs during a parliamentary session./COURTESY

National Assembly and Senate sittings scheduled for this week have been postponed forthwith.

In a joint statement speaker of National Assembly Justin Muturi and senate speaker, Ken Lusaka said that the postponement of the two cardinal sittings was occasioned by the directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta barring movement of people from or to counties including Nairobi metropolitan, Mombasa Kwale, and Kilifi.

“As you are further aware, His Excellency, the President, has today, 6th April 2020, informed the nation that in order to further contain and limit the spread of COVID-19 to other parts of the country, the National Security Council has sanctioned and caused the issuance of various additional measures, including-(1) That there shall be a cessation of all movement by road, rail or air in and out of-(a) the Nairobi Metropolitan Area; and (b) the counties of Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa;”They said.

” The movement within the Nairobi Metropolitan Area and the Counties of Kilifi, Kwale, and Mombasa shall continue subject to the nationwide curfew; The cessation of movement within the counties of Kilifi, Kwale, and Mombasa shall be for an initial containment period of 21 days; with effect from 7:00 pm on Wednesday, 8th April 2020. “The speakers said in a statement.

As per the presidential directive in the intervening period movement in and out of the counties of Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa shall be restricted and supervised by the Kenya Police.

Movement has also been restricted in the Nairobi Metropolitan area which is designated as Nairobi City County, and part of Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado counties.

The duo had anticipated the two houses would have special sittings and deliberate on what input parliament will offer in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

The National Assembly was contemplating to have its sittings on Tuesday this week while the National Assembly’s sittings were scheduled for Wednesday as well.

Muturi and Lusaka said that the postponement will allow them to consult widely on the matter and ultimately decide on the way forward.

“Circumstances, it has, therefore, become necessary to inform you that it will not be possible to hold the Sittings of the Houses of Parliament as scheduled, until further notice. The Leadership of the two Houses is consulting and shall advise on the means by which urgent business that is before the Houses of Parliament shall be transacted remotely and Members shall shortly be advised on this.”Muturi and Lusaka said in a joint statement.

Last week, Majority leader Aden Duale wrote to the speaker urging him to consider having a special sitting in a bid to discuss COVID-19 as the numbers of those who have tested positive surges to more than 158 over the past 24 hours.

Senate had initial sittings over the pandemic last week, whereas, on the other hand, they asked the parliamentary service commission to slash the 2019/2020 budgetary allocations amounting to 200 million aid the fight against the virus.