Why speaker Beatrice Elachi’s resignation is null and void

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi/ COURTESY

The purported resignation of Nairobi County Assembly Speaker through President Uhuru Kenyatta is null and void.

Beatrice Elachi on Thursday announced she was resigning following persistent chaos and threats in the county assembly.

“I humbly tender my resignation to President Uhuru Kenyatta. Sir, for the last few days there have been life threatening incidences. I appoint my deputy speaker John Kamangu as acting speaker,” Elachi said.

However, the County Government Act provides that the Office of the Speaker shall become vacant “if the office holder resigns from office in a letter addressed to the county assembly”.

This means Elachi ought to have written to Nairobi clerk, who’d notify the MCAs.

Last week, however, the Employment and Labour Relations Court ordered Clerk Jacob Ngwele to step aside pending the hearing and determination of his case.

Justice Maureen Onyango directed Deputy Clerk Adah Onyango to take over the functions of the office pending judgment in October.

In the previous week, judge Onyango had issued orders suspending the appointment of Edward Gichana as the Clerk of the assembly.

Ngwele moved to court challenging the appointment of Gichana and the court is expected to rule on the matter on October 16.

Responding to news of Elachi’s resignation, constitutional lawyer Ahmednassir Abdullahi tweeted, “How SILLY can one be? Ati “I HUMBLY TENDER MY RESIGNATION TO PRESIDENT UHURU KENYATTA”… Beatrice Elachi resigning as Speaker of the County Assembly of Nairobi… I thought the good lady was elected by members of the County Assembly? Why invoke the President’s name in VAIN?”

However, lawyer Steve Ogolla said Elachi’s resignation should be interpreted in broader terms of a push to remove Governor Mike Sonko.

“Beatrice Elachi enjoys firm support of Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. Her resignation can be explained in the broader context of removal of Gov. Sonko. You don’t have a Deputy Governor, you don’t have a Speaker, and you don’t have functions, but then you have corruption cases,” Ogolla said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have save Governor Sonko from impeachment when he hosted Nairobi MCAs in State House. Sonko, however, had to give up for key county functions to the national government.

Article 192 says the President may suspend a county government in an emergency arising out of internal conflict or war; or in any other exceptional circumstances.

For this to happen, an independent commission of inquiry should investigate allegations against the county government, and the President is satisfied that the allegations are justified and the Senate has authorised the suspension.

Elections should, however, be held after three months, which is not practical under the present Covid-19 conditions.

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