Protests calling for the removal of Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru from office erupted in Kirinyaga Town on Wednesday, May 13.
The protesters carried placards demanding the governor's impeachment and chanted anti-Waiguru slogans such as 'Waiguru Must Go!' as they snaked through the town.
Those who participated alleged that Waiguru had failed as a governor, citing stalled development projects such as the planned construction of a Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) facility in Kirinyaga.
Some of the placards called for the courts to lift an order that suspended an impeachment motion tabled in the Kirinyaga County Assembly on April 1.Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru addresses mourners during the burial of Jane Wanjiku Mburati at Kambarare Village, Gichugu constituency on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.
On Tuesday, April 7, Justice Weldon Korir suspended the impeachment proceedings, directing the county assembly to wait for the Covid-19 pandemic to be contained.
He argued that continuing with the proceedings would prejudice Waiguru's rights, but asserted that he would not have made the ruling if it were not for the pandemic.
“In my view, the unique circumstances posed by the Covid-19 pandemic impose a duty to the court to interfere with the county assembly's mandate in so far as the impeachment proceeding is concerned.
"The governor's rights are threatened [and] the doctrine of public participation will be violated," he maintained.
Protesters in Kirinyaga demanded that the motion tabled by Mutira Ward MCA David Wangui be allowed to proceed for residents to give their views.
Before the proceedings were halted by the court, the Kirinyaga County Assembly had begun the process of asking the public to submit a memorandum on the impeachment, as gatherings and rallies were banned by the government due to the pandemic.
Korir observed that various legal requirements such as public participation would be difficult to undertake with the prevailing circumstances, noting that the accessibility of technology proposed as an alternative also posed a challenge.
“I do not find merit in the claim that the motion be stopped because it lacks necessary threshold or that the process is in bad faith but because of the Covid19 pandemic.
"How does this affect the operations of the assembly? This is exceptional and should be considered,” he noted while delivering the ruling.
Critics of Waiguru have accused her of being occupied with national politics such as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) at the expense of local development projects.
In his impeachment motion, Wangui cited Waiguru's failure to deliver an address to the County Assembly as stipulated by law as one of the reasons for impeachment.
"The governor’s failure to deliver an annual State of the County Address to the county assembly, further amounts to the violation of the national values and principles of governance as enshrined under Article 10 and more specifically, her conduct violates the constitutional principles of patriotism, the rule of law, good governance, integrity, transparency, accountability, and sharing and devolution of power," the motion read in part.
One particular project, however, stirred up the most controversy and even drew in Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.
Waiguru had refused to release a title deed for construction of an ultra-modern health and medical research centre in Kirinyaga as she demanded assurances on the allocation of a percentage of jobs at the facility.
By the time of the impeachment motion, however, Waiguru had revealed that they had reached an agreement with Kemri and construction would soon begin on the multi-million project.
Watch a video of the protests below:
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