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Remarks by the Hon. Sen. Ekwee Ethuro, EBS,MP; Speaker of the Senate during the 1st joint sitting of the two Houses of the 11th Parliament on Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Your Excellency Sir, The Hon. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, EGH, MP, the President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander-in- Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces,

H. E. The Hon William Samoei Ruto, the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya (who is in attendance);

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon Justin Muturi

My friend & colleague

Deputy Speakers of the Senate and the National Assembly

Honourable Senators and Members of Parliament,

The Judges of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice

The Religious Heads Present

The Clerks of the National Assembly and the Senate;

Ladies  & Gentlemen

I feel greatly honoured and privileged to stand before you, as your Speaker of the Senate, to welcome His Excellency the President, all Hon Senators and Members of the National Assembly of the 11th Parliament of the Republic of Kenya to this auscipicious occasion of the 1st Joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament for purposes of the Presidential address.

Before I make my welcoming remarks, you will indulge me to congratulate all of you as this is a newly elected parliament and through you to congratulate all the people of Kenya for exercising their democratic right and civic duty of electing the representatives of their choice.  When prophets of doom were predicting chaos & violence, Kenyans demonstrated a rare sense of confidence and commitment in the electoral process by rising early and in large numbers and queuing for long hours to vote. This resulted not only in preferred candidates that now sit in Parliament but also in the county governments. And they did this in style: by conducting themselves peacefully: before, during and after the elections.

Permit me also to congratulate you, the 4th President of the Republic of Kenya, and your able 1st Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, the Hon. William Ruto for your election, inauguration and assumption to the highest calling of the land. Your Excellency, the reconciliatory tone of your leadership so far is a clear indication that this country will do well under your leadership and that of your Deputy.

I also wish to congratulate all Honourable Senators & Members of the 11th Parliament for their successful election. Let me also take this opportunity to convey my sincere salutations to the newly elected Governors and their Deputies, and the County Representatives in the 47 counties throughout the country in the just-concluded March 4 2013 General Elections. Of course, I cannot conclude this section without congratulating my counterpart, the Speaker of the National Assembly and his Deputy the Hon Joyce Laboso. On my own behalf, my Deputy, Senator Kembi-Gitura & the entire leadership of the Senate & Staff we look forward to a fruitful engagement during this 11th edition of the Parliament of Kenya.

Your Excellency, Hon. Senators and Members;

In my native Turkana County, we have the “Ekicolong” – a two legged stool – which serves multiple functions: it is used as a seat (when sitting), a pillow (when sleeping), a head rest (when taking a siesta) and an arm chair (when relaxing).

This Two Legged Stool “the Ekicolong” has been & still remains a symbolic representative of the nexus role played by Parliaments in a democracy within itself & as a branch of government. Before the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010, the two legs depicted the Kenya National Assembly and the President, both of which constituted the Parliament of the Republic of Kenya. Then, however, one leg was in the House while the other was outside its precincts, specifically, in State House.  Once again, the stool is still 2 legged but symbolizing a new order i.e. representing the National Assembly and the Senate– which constitute Parliament. Both legs of the Ekicolong are now within the Precincts of Parliament itself.

The Kenyan Parliament has therefore come full circle where it has truly become a cornerstone of democracy. It remains central in the promotion and custody of democracy, manifests the diversity of the nation, represents the will of the people and exercises their sovereignty.

Your Excellency, Honourable Senators and Members;

Article 1(1,2&3) of the Constitution stipulates that all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised either directly or through their democratically elected representatives. Among the State Organs, sovereign power under the current Constitution is delegated to; Parliament and the legislative assemblies in the county governments; the national executive and the executives structures in the county governments; and the Judiciary and independent tribunals.

These provisions reflect the division of roles in our governance architecture and gives us a constitutional obligation. This will require cooperation and harmonious engagement between Parliament and the Executive, and by extension the Judiciary.

Your Excellency, Honourable Senators and Members;

To comment on the Kenyan situation that I believe your government will be addressing itself to and bringing bills to this house to legislate, The key challenges to development in Kenya still remain those at independence which the 1st Senate was trying to grapple with, namely: poverty, disease, illiteracy and poor infrastructure. These have been compounded by insecurity, rising unemployment especially among the youth; negative ethnicity, corruption, poor public service delivery, etc.  These have resulted in unequal society and chronic under development in the some parts of the Republic. To the extent that some of these areas feel less Kenyan and sounds of Hapa na Pale si Kenya or I am going to Kenya become unfortunately part of our national discourse.

As Kenyans usher your leadership, the country is pregnant with expectations. We want our country back. Where it will not matter where one is born. That each and every Kenyan will be entitled to certain rights especially the social and economic rights as provided in Article 43 of the constitution: Rights to food, education, medicine & shelter. It is worthwhile though to note that your address to the nation during the inauguration day on 9th April 2013 had captured key policy guidelines that will address these challenges.

Further, we are lucky as a nation to have a blue print for development Vision 2030. Thus, one of our principal duties in leadership will be to manage the delivery of the programmes set out in Vision 2030, which involves processes of Kenya’s modernization and realization of faster growth.

Your Excellency, Hon. Senators and Members;

Once in a while, like in all democratic jurisdictions the world over, contentions and even conflict may occur amongst the arms and even within each arm of Government. The propensity for implosion cannot be underestimated. It will call for the highest form of statesmanship and quality leadership if we are to rise to the occasion and succeed.

To a large measure, the role of the opposition in Parliament seemed to have faded away given the architecture, spirit and letter of the Grand Coalition Government. This role was left to a few backbenchers who questioned from both coalitions often questioned certain acts of impropriety and government inaction, but the full force of opposition was missing. Indeed, in the 11th Parliament we expect to see more robust and vibrant opposition versus the government benches. The Constitution has made provision in Article 108 (3) for the Leaders of the Minority Parties in Parliament to offer the much-needed legitimate opposition in Parliament.

As Speaker of the Senate, I promise to be true to the oath of office we recently took and observe the cardinal democratic principle that will let” the Minority to have their say  and the Majority to have their way .” I am conscious that Kenyans expect to see balanced, informed and robust debates and deliberations in both the Plenary and Committees.

For Parliament and the Executive, we have no choice but to co-exist as a matter of necessity. We have to collaborate and work together. The theory of government in our case puts us together – more so to complement each other, accomplish developmental tasks and quality service provision for our dear country as found in the 3rd stanza of our National Anthem, which goes, and I quote :-

Let all in one accord     , In common bond united

Build this our nation together,    and the glory of Kenya,

the fruit of our labour , fill every heart with thanksgiving.

Your Excellency, Hon. Senators and Members;

On our part as The Senate, we will play an integral role in the democratization process as well as safeguarding the devolution architecture pursuant to our 4 fold mandate as set out in Article 96 of the Constitution. Chief among them is to represent the counties, and serve to protect the interests of the counties and their governments. May I also take this opportunity to assure Kenyans that the Senate is here to stay, despite the unfortunate history of our first Senate when it ceased to exist in 1966. The Senate has now been re-established in 2013 in order to realize those aspirations of the Kenyan people to have a decent balanced and equitable society free from want! And it would not die again, at least not under my leadership.

Your Excellency, Honourable Senators and Members;

In order for the Senate to assert itself and deliver on the promise of devolution, we will be calling on the other stakeholders especially the Executive and Development Partners to assist us in mobilizing the requisite financial, physical and human resources so as to adequately discharge its Constitutional mandate.

In Conclusion, Yo-ur Excellency;

I welcome you most sincerely to The Senate one of the Houses of Parliament that will have to give force of law to your policies and programmes of your 4th Presidency. Article 94 (5) states that no person or body, other than Parliament, has the power to make provision having the force of law in Kenya …

Fellow colleagues, from the above it is clear that the Executive and Parliament are duty bound to work together in the common endeavour to serve the people of the Republic of Kenya. There is therefore a lot of hard work ahead of us. Kenyans want the promise of the new constitution: which is equitable development and quality services like yesterday, not tomorrow. We all need to play and & must play our respective roles in the fulfillment of those aspirations!

I have no doubt in my mind that we will succeed as one nation, Inshallah

Thank you and God bless Kenya.


Senator Ekwee Ethuro, EBS, MP

Speaker of the Senate

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