President Uhuru Kenyatta will address lawmakers on Monday ahead of his expected appearance before the International Criminal Court.
The special sitting, coming just two days before the President is scheduled to become the first sitting Head of State to appear before the ICC, has raised expectations that he would address the matter.
Already a number of government and Opposition MPs and some Cabinet Secretaries have collected visas to travel to The Hague for the hearing.
The President wrote to the Speakers of the Senate and the National Assembly and asked them to prepare for the special sitting.
Both Houses are on a break and so senators and members of the National Assembly will have to suspend their business in their constituencies and return to Nairobi to listen to the President on Monday afternoon.
Some, like Majority Leader Aden Duale, had used the break to travel to Mecca for the Hajj.
On Friday evening, the MPs were receiving text messages on their phones that read: “Mheshimiwa, please note that Pursuant to Article 132 (1) (b) of the Constitution, His Excellency The President will address a Joint Sitting of Parliament on Monday 6th October, 2014 at 3pm in the National Assembly Chamber. Kindly attend. Thank you Justin B. Muturi & Ekwee Ethuro.”
Mr Muturi, the National Assembly Speaker, said the President was not required to inform the House in advance of the subject of the special sitting.
“My only imagination is that it may be something about ICC,” he said on Friday evening.
Speaking in Nakuru on Friday, President Kenyatta urged Kenyans not to be distracted by his summons by the ICC judges.
He did not give any hint as to whether he would honour the summons, but exuded confidence that the pending case against him would come to an end.
He was speaking at Dundori Gwa Kiongo trading centre in Nyandarua County after attending requiem Mass for Mr Joseph Kimemia Migwi, the father of the Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr Francis Kimemia.
LACK OF EVIDENCE
The President’s case at the ICC arises from the 2007/08 post-election violence in which 1,133 people were killed and more than 600,000 uprooted from their homes.
However, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has had problems because of lack of witnesses and evidence against Mr Kenyatta.
She has accused the government of intimidating witnesses and hiding crucial records on the President.
The Constitution says that the President may address Parliament at any time.
Mr Muturi quoted the Article: “The President shall address a special sitting of Parliament once every year and may address Parliament at any other time.”
The Speaker said the President had acted according to the Constitution.
“They write a letter to me and the Speaker of the Senate, which they did, indicating that the President wishes to address a special sitting of the Houses on Monday at 3pm and that we make the arrangements for that to happen,” he added.
The Speakers prepared a legal notice for publication in the Kenya Gazette. This was done on Friday evening.
This sitting will however be different from others because Monday is not a typical sitting day for the Houses even if they were in session.
Both Houses of Parliament meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Each House has its own independently-controlled calendar but the President by law addresses the opening of each newly-elected Parliament, which he did last year.
Earlier this year, he also addressed Parliament as required by the Constitution and submitted reports on progress made in realising national values and progress made in fulfilling Kenya’s international obligations.
Parliament’s special sitting comes as the number of MPs applying for visas to travel to The Hague continued to grow.
The Dutch embassy in Nairobi was forced to open on Friday due to the extra workload occasioned by the large number of MPs who want to accompany the President to the ICC.
DEFEND THE NATION
Their idea is that by going to The Hague at the same time as the President, they would be making a statement to the court, which they have characterised as interfering with Kenya’s sovereignty by summoning the Head of State.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who is among those organising the MPs, told the Nation that on Friday morning, they had 94 MPs willing to travel to The Hague and the numbers were growing.
“We are going to defend the nation because it is the nation on trial. It’s our sovereignty on trial and as representatives of the people, we’re going to stand by the President,” he said.
Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu was at the embassy on Friday as well as opposition MPs Joseph Nkaissery and Simeon Ogari.
Mr Kuria said the MPs will seek access to the ICC public gallery.
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