On Thursday 8 September, a day shy of a month since Kenyans took to the polls, the 13th parliament, the Senate and the National Assembly, had its first sitting in the House. This followed the notification for the sitting, through a gazette notice, by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday 5 September.
Article 126 (2) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides that, whenever a new house is elected, the incumbent President, through a gazette notice, shall call for the first sitting. The date of the sitting, according to the Constitution, should not be more than 30 days from the date of the general election. The Constitution also allows for the sitting of either house to be held at any place within the Republic, and such a sitting is not bound by time. That means, the sitting does not have a specific start or ending time and the house can conduct its business until the events of the day are done.
After the notification by the President, the Clerks of the Senate and National Assembly officially communicated the same to the elected representatives, issuing a declaration of vacancies in the offices of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker in the two houses. This was done on Monday 5 September by the Acting Clerk of the National Assembly, Ms. Serah Kioko and the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Jeremiah Nyegenye. With this, persons who qualify for the positions of Speaker and Deputy were to collect and submit their nomination papers by 12.30 p.m. on 7 September.
What Happens During the First Sitting
The Standing Orders of the Senate and the National Assembly have it that the Clerks are to first read the notification of the President as published in the Kenya Gazette. Secondly, the Clerks are to lay the list of the names of the newly elected members on the table. Finally, the Clerks are to administer the Oath or Affirmation of Office in alphabetical order and in the manner prescribed in the Standing Orders.
After administering the oath of office, the Clerks make arrangements for the elections of the Speakers of the two houses, which take place on the first day of sitting of the new Parliament.