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Having too many Twitter followers could slow down your US visa application

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Having a legion of followers on social media could slow down the processing of your  US visa application, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Amb Macharia Kamau warned MPs.

Kamau told MPs that due to the American legislation, individuals who are politically active are always on the government’s radar.

“Once you become a Member of Parliament and your Twitter handle has got one million followers, that is enough to trigger the fact that you are now a politically exposed personality. This will result in your Visa [application] being referred to Washington and once it goes into reference, it joins a long queue…sometimes it can take up to three or four months,” Macharia said during the induction of Members of Parliament (MPs) at Nairobi’s Safari Park hotel.

At the same time, the PS said that some Western nations were using the visa issue to safeguard their national interests.

“If they don’t like a certain MP when they come for visa application, they will  give all sorts of excuses such us; your visa has been referred, there is a backlog, etc. And before you know it, you have given up. Your intended reason for travel is crashed,” he said.

The Principal Secretary said the vigorous process is a result of  American foreign policy shift that began during President Barack Obama’s reign and identifies people who are politically active.

 

Politics

Why Nairobi MCA are yet to be sworn-in

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Nairobi MCAs are divided over the unexpected delay to swear them in more than one month since they were elected. They claim Governor Johnson Sakaja’s silence on the matter is worrying yet elected members in other counties have been sworn in.

The leaders claim the delay is linked to intense lobbying by top leaders of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Azimio coalition to marshal numbers to get the speaker slot once the House is convened.
Korogocho MCA Absalom Odhiambo said the swearing-in should not be delayed any longer since there is need to embark on serving the electorates.

“The voters don’t want to know whether we have been sworn in or not. All they want is to be served and promises we made during campaigns be fulfilled,” Odhiambo said yesterday. Odhiambo challenged Governor Sakaja to convene the first sitting by Thursday as it had been speculated.

His Gatina Ward counterpart Kennedy Swaka said some members were now operating from the streets and cyber cafes since they had not been sworn in.

“It’s shameful that other county assemblies have kicked off business yet here in Nairobi, we are being told to loiter in streets because the governor is trying to buy time,” Sakwa said.

However, Peter Imwatok, the outgoing Minority Whip argues that the MCA’s have no mandate to pressure Governor Sakaja before the constitutional timelines lapse.

Nomination list

Imwatok, who is serving his third time as Makongeni ward member, says the Constitution stipulates that the members must be sworn in before 30 days after the gazettement of nominated members.

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Politics

Raila-backed candidate wins Kisumu Speaker race

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Mr Elisha Oraro who was being backed by the ODM leader Raila Odinga in the race for speaker of the Kisumu County Assembly narrowly carried the day after a spirited fight by his opponent Samuel Ong’ow.

He garnered 25 votes against Mr Ong’ow’s 22 in a duel decided in a second round of voting. The first round saw Mr Oraro get 24 votes against 23 votes cast for his opponent. The other contestants attracted no votes.

Mr Oraro was the speaker of the last assembly, a house that impeached his two predecessors. When nominations closed at noon on September 19, seven people had submitted their papers for the Speaker race.

They included Mr Oraro, Mr Ong’ow who is also a former majority in the same House, lawyer Kenneth Oduor Amondi, James Kounah Ochieng, Victor Otieno Odongo, Linda Ogweno Atieno and Nelson Lennoa Jalango Adul.

Of these, only four met the threshold required for the position. They were Mr Oraro, Mr Ong’ow, Mr Amondi and Mr Kounah. The other three were not proposed and seconded by any of the elected MCAs.

On Monday, almost half of the elected MCAs boycotted a meeting attended by Mr Odinga, a gathering whose agenda was to rally the lawmakers into voting for Mr Oraro.

It was the highest level of defiance so far to the opposition leader that has annoyed the rank and file of the ODM party.

For the position of deputy Speaker, only two candidates – Vincent Odhiambo Obuya and Nereah Akoth Okombo – had been cleared, leaving out Joachim Oketch, who held the seat when the last assembly dissolved.

More than a week ago, Mr Oraro got a major boost when ODM nominated him as its candidate for the seat for a second time.

Mr Oraro had a foot in as he sought to keep the seat he inherited after the previous assembly impeached Onyango Oloo over corruption claims.

In a September 8 letter, ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna notified assembly Clerk Owen Ojuok of the party’s notice about picking Mr Oraro as its preferred candidate.

Before the vote was cast, the Nation had it on good authority that the number of MCAs supporting Mr Oraro and Mr Ong’ow, the two main contenders, was a tight 23-24, and that the race could go either way. In the end, Mr Oraro carried the day.

Only 24 elected MCAs attended a dinner meeting held at the Grand Royal Swiss Hotel, as the others allied to Mr Ong’ow skipped it, the result of serious lobbying that could embarrass Mr Odinga if MCAs from his Kisumu backyard reject his candidate and elect someone else.

The Kisumu assembly has 47 MCAs – 35 elected and 12 nominated.

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Politics

MPs-elect prepare to take office

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Newly elected Members of Parliament will today savour their working place for the next five years as the two-day pre-swearing-in ceremony begins at the main Parliament building.

Acting Clerk of the National Assembly Serah Kioko, however, said the new lawmakers will still not be allocated offices as they have not officially assumed office.

Ms Kioko told the Nation yesterday that today’s event will mostly be about receiving the details of the MPs-elect.

“From Tomorrow (today), we shall receive their details and show them around. Later, there will be a full induction where they will be taken through the Standing Orders, among other things,” she said.

Standing Order 259F provides that at the commencement of every parliament, a member submits to the Clerk biodata in the form prescribed for purposes of facilitating them in the affairs of the National Assembly and for public information.

In the induction to be conducted later, and which mostly targets MPs who have made it to Parliament for the first time, the lawmakers are taken through the legislative process such as how to sponsor Bills, bring petitions, and issue personal statements.

The induction is normally conducted by senior parliamentary officers handling different matters in the House.

For instance, there will be an officer from the pension department, house rules and procedure department, legal department, the Clerk’s office, and services and facilities department, among other critical areas that facilitate the well-being of members while conducting their legislative roles.

The MPs-elect are supposed to present the original national identity card or passport, Kenya Revenue Authority personal identification number, the original certificate issued by the IEBC returning officer, a duly signed biodata form and curriculum vitae.

The requirements are also supposed to be submitted even by those who have been re-elected.

New rules

Upon swearing in, the new MPs will walk into new rules governing their legislative work following the review of the Standing Orders by their colleagues who served in the 12th parliament.

Among the changes include the introduction of 10 new committees a move that will see the number of committees move from the current 33 to 43.

Among the new committees introduced in the review of the Standing Orders undertaken by the House procedure and rules committee include the diaspora committee, public debt and privatisation committee, decentralized funds committee, public petitions committee, Housing, urban and planning committee, regional and development committee, and the social welfare committee.

The Public Investments Committee (PIC) has also been divided into three in order to enable it to cover more audit reports on the effective discharge of public funds of various parastatals under their mandate.

The 12 Independent MPs who have made it to the 13th Parliament will also have to be guided on how they will form their caucus and elect their leader who will champion their agenda on the floor of the House.

In the review of the Standing Orders, the House had already approved an Independent members’ caucus that will be only composed of those elected on independent tickets.

An independent MP is one who is elected free of any political party backing and is in fact required to have resigned from any party at least three months to the polls to be eligible to vie.

The single-member constituency MPs elected as independents are Rahim Dawood (Imenti North), Ronald Karauri (Kasarani), Elijah Njoroge (Gatundu North), Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu East), Timothy Toroitich (Marakwet West), Joshua Mwalyo (Masinga), Nebert Muriuki (Mbeere South), Geoffrey Mulanya (Nambale) and Kitilai Ntutu (Narok South).

On the Woman Rep front, those elected as independents are Migori’s Fatuma Mohamed, Caroline Ngelechei (Elgeyo-Marakwet), and Monica Muthoni (Lamu).

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