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The National Assembly yesterday voted to proceed on recess until on Tuesday, 4th May, 2021 at 2.30p.m, when the House will resume to continue with the First Part of the Session. The resolution was contained in a Motion moved by the Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly, Hon. (Dr.) Amos Kimunya seeking to suspend the Ordinary House Sittings from yesterday 30th March, 2021.

The Members also adopted another Motion by Hon. Kimunya, and will now hold Committee Meetings virtually during the entire period of Recess. Members will now be expected to attend and participate in the virtual meetings of Committees from their offices within Parliament Buildings as envisaged in the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, 2017, and the Speaker’s Guidelines regarding Conduct of Committee Meetings During the COVID-19 Pandemic Period.

At the same time, priority business such as Bills published during recess; papers and statutory instruments will be referred to relevant Committees for consideration and will be introduced or tabled in the House during its next Sitting. The period of consideration of petitions that were before Committees has also been extended. The number of days since the petitions were referred to the relevant Committees until yesterday, will continue counting when the House resumes. Committees are normally expected to consider petitions within sixty (60) days.

The House also voted to allow an extension for the Departmental Committee on Education and Research to consider the nominee for appointment as Principal Secretary for the State Department for Implementation of Curriculum Reforms, Prof. Fatuma Chege,  by a period of fourteen (14) days from 21stApril, 2021.

With regard to the submission of the Report on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 promoted by the Building Bridges Initiative under Article 257 of the Constitution, the Speaker will forthwith cause the Report to be circulated to all Members (in electronic form) and prioritize Special Sittings of the House convened pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 29 to consider the said Bill in keeping with the requirements of Article 257 of the Constitution. Last week, the Speaker ruled that the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs should table the report on 1st April 2021.

These measures taken by the House, follow a request by President Uhuru Kenyatta for Parliament to suspend its sittings, during his 15th Address on the Coronavirus Pandemic. The decision had been reached on following consultations with the heads of other arms of government.

While issuing a Communication on the matter before the House took a vote, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Justin Muturi clarified that the President had not ordered for the suspension of Parliamentary Sittings but rather, had requested that the two Houses consider taking the measures as part of national efforts in the fight against the pandemic. He elucidated that Members had the ultimate responsibility, duty and authority to determine how they would want to regulate themselves even with the current upsurge of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I just wanted to make this point clear that Parliament has not been directed and cannot be directed. So Honourable Members, debate this motion in full knowledge that it is your power to make determination as appropriate.”, the Speaker explained.

The Pandemic has intermittently disrupted the operations of the National Assembly since March last year, and the House has had to alter its calendar several times as well as reschedule sitting days in a bid to mitigate the spread of the disease in Parliament.