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Speaker Wetang’ula defends move to appeal housing levy ruling

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National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula has defended his recent decision to file a petition at the Supreme Court, challenging the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the Finance Act 2023 following criticism by Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Odinga, on Sunday, said the move by Wetang’ula disqualifies him from holding the Office of the Speaker of National Assembly.

In a statement on Tuesday, Wetangula dismissed Odinga’s remarks terming them not only misleading but also damaging to the public’s trust in parliament.

“It is quite embarrassing for the Former Prime Minister to be making statements that clearly portrays him and or his advisers or handlers as being ignorant of the law in particular on the role of the Speaker of the National Assembly,” said Wetang’ula.

“The baseless remarks have been used to mislead the public as a decoy for diluting public confidence in the institution of Parliament, which is quite unfortunate. More so considering that the subject is a former Member of Parliament,” he added.

Wetangula emphasized his constitutional right to appeal any court decisions on behalf of the National Assembly, reiterating that it is within his duties to defend the institution in such cases.

“The Former Prime Minister who is a seasoned legislator of many years knows this very well that in Court proceedings by or against the Speaker of the National Assembly, it is then serving the Speaker of the National Assembly who has the legal duty to appear in court and defend the case,” he stated.

Wetang’ula further addressed Odinga’s concerns on presentation of bills to the President for assent, saying that the constitution mandates Speakers of Parliament to formally present bills passed by the Houses to the Head of State.

“The facilitative role of the Speakers of Parliament in the legislative processes by formally presenting the Bills for assent to the President finds its basis not just in the Constitution but in established parliamentary practice as well,” Wetang’ula stated.

“Indeed, looking at comparative jurisdictions such as the US Congressional system, a Bill once passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, is subsequently submitted to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House for their signatures and thereafter it is referred to the President for assent. Therefore, it would be unconstitutional for the President to assent to Bills not formally presented by the Speakers of Parliament as required by the Constitution.”

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