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NDI Pledges to Partner with the National Assembly in the Promotion of Parliamentary Democracy

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) is keen to support the growth of Parliamentary Democracy in Kenya. Speaking when he called on the Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Justin Muturi, the Global President of the Institute Mr. Kenneth Wollack lauded the steps that Parliament has taken towards the implementation of the constitution of Kenya 2010, and its increased vigour in the discharge of its now expanded mandate in over-sighting the executive. He pronounced the Institute’s keenness in offering capacity support towards this end, adding that “there is need to strengthen the National Assembly to execute its most fundamental powers; the Power of the Purse and the Subpoena Powers.” Mr. Wollack further observed that the systems, customs and procedures being adopted by the legislature since the inception of a new Parliamentary system in 2013, are important as they will set the precedence for posterity.

On his part, Speaker Muturi lauded the role that the NDI has played in developing capacity for Parliamentarians across the world, recalling that the organization had in the past worked with the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) and the Kenya young Parliamentary Association (KYPA) and recently, the NDI Director of Government Relations and Communication, Mr. Jerry Hartz was a key resource person during the Post-Election Seminar for Members of the National Assembly held in Mombasa. He noted that in modern democracy, and with an insatiable expectation from the citizenry for good governance and democracy, the National Assembly has to rise to the occasion and develop capacity for its members especially in regards to the operations of the Parliamentary Committee System so as to effectively oversight the executive and play its role of representation with efficacy. “As the Speaker of the Congress once remarked, Parliament in Committees is Parliament at work. Parliament in the Plenary is Parliament in display. However, in these forums, Members are in actual sense enforcing their mandate in regards to oversight and representation”, Speaker Muturi noted.

The two also spoke on the matter of Separation of powers with Mr. Wollack quick to note that from his interaction with Parliaments across the globe, tension between the legislature and the executive exists everywhere. He however added that every society has to find its own balance in keeping true to the principle of Separation of Powers. Speaker Muturi further noted that though Parliament would not want to be seen as overarching in its oversight role, Cabinet Secretaries as well as other heads of government agencies have to be forthright to answer to Members queries when invited, as Members are not expected to go looking for them in their offices as they seek answers emanating from their constituents’ queries.

Mr. Wollack also hailed the current political situation in the country heralded by the “historical handshake” between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the NASA Leader Rt. Hon Raila Odinga. He added that the tempo set after the handshake had created the necessary political environment for meaningful political engagements. Keen to understand the role that Parliament will play in making the process of unifying the country after the handshake, Mr. Wollack noted that Parliament would make the process more inclusive. Responding to these concerns, Speaker Muturi assured the NDI head that Parliament was ready to rise to the occasion if any legislative interventions would be required.

Speaker Muturi further urged the NDI to support the development of capacity in the areas of the conduct and ethics of legislators across the African Region, noting that he now has a bigger role to play in that regard, since his election as President of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) which he was elected to in absentia at a meeting for African legislators held in Accra, Ghana.

Mr. Wollack was accompanied by Mr. Richard Klein, the Regional Director, NDI and the local Chapter Director, Mr. Dickson Omondi. The Delegation also met the Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale and the Leader of the Minority Hon. John Mbadi. The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government

 

 

 

 

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