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Kenya MPs "forgiven" by parliament speaker after their secret trip to Somalia

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online
MPs Rashid Kassim (Wajir East) Omar Salah Maalim (Mandera East), Mohammed Hire (Lagdera) and Kullow Maalim (Banisa) alight from an aircraft at the JKIA in Nairobi after a trip to Somalia, March 1,2020. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

NAIROBI, Kenya - The eleven Kenya MPs who travelled to Mogadishu without adhering to procedures will not be punished, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said, amid criticism from a section of politicians.

Authorities in Nairobi briefly held the legislators at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport [JKIA] upon arrival from Somalia on Sunday, officials said.

No charges were preferred against them even as foreign affairs department denied dispatching them as emissaries, with the police saying that they were held for "discussions".

And on Tuesday, Muturi, who is the custodian of MPs, said article 260 of Standing Orders do not prefer any punishment against those who violate travelling rules.

“Whereas there are no sanctions against members who fail to inform the Speaker whenever they travel out of the country, I urge you to live up to the spirit of Chapter Six of the Constitution,” he said in Parliament.

Initially, there were calls to have the MPs probed by Parliamentary Powers and Privilege committee, which interrogates alleged misconducts and recommends action.

For the avoidance of doubt, there is no requirement compelling members of this House to seek consent to undertake private travels, the House speaker added.

“Similarly, there is not a requirement for official parliamentary delegations to obtain the consent of other offices, save for that of the Speaker, to undertake official travels,” he noted.

Those who travelled to Somalia are Ahmed Kolosh [Wajir West], Ibrahim Abdi [Lafey], Rashid Kassim [Wajir East], Mohamed Hire [Lagdera] and Omar Maalim [Mandera East].

Others are Bashir Abdullahi [Mandera North], Adan Haji [Mandera West], Kullow Maalim [Banisa], Adan Ali Sheikh [Mandera South], Ahmed Bashane [Tarbaj] and Mohamed Dahir [Dadaab].

According to Bashir, the MPs discussed "insecurity" in northeastern and Al-Shabaab "menace" with President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, upon President Uhuru Kenyatta's "challenge" against them over terrorism in their jurisdictions.

The Somalia-based militants have caused havoc in northeastern Kenya, leading to a mass exodus of non-local teachers. There have been 16 attacks this year alone and 20 fatalities in the region, authorities said.

But sources within intelligence services say the MPs and a number of lawyers from NFD are being investigated for possible sharing of information with FGS and Al-Shabaab.

The MPs and the lawyers, some who work closely with government authorities, are said to be either in the "payroll" of Al-Shabaab or Somalia government, sources said.

With claims that the MPs met Somalia's spy agency boss Fahad Yasin, Nairobi is keen to gradually unravel details of the trip before taking any action against the legislators.

After their trip, intensive fighting was witnessed in Gedo between SNA troops and Jubaland forces, in a conflict which Kenya has also been directly dragged into.