The fate of Embu governor Martin Wambora, who became the first elected executive to be impeached by a county assembly, now lies with the courts and Parliament.
Mr Wambora’s fate will also depend on the interpretation of the Constitution with regard to removal of a governor before his term expires.
Article 181(1) of the Constitution says a governor can be removed from office over gross violation of the Constitution or any other law, where the governor has committed a crime under national or international law, abuse of office or gross misconduct, or physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office.
Article 181(2), however, requires that “Parliament shall enact legislation providing for the procedure of removal of a county governor on any of the grounds mentioned in clause (1).
Parliament is yet to enact legislation governing the removal of governors but some analysts argue that is provided for under the County Government Act 2012. The law sets an elaborate process that gives the Senate the final say on the removal of a governor.
The Act says a member of the county assembly can move a motion, which must be supported by a third of all members, to impeach a governor by notice to the speaker.
The motion must then be supported by two-thirds of all the members of the county assembly. If successful the speaker of the county must notify the senate within two days of the resolution. “If a motion …is supported by at least two-thirds of all the members of the county assembly…the speaker of the county assembly shall inform the Speaker of the Senate of that resolution within two days,” states the Act.
The senate then forms the committee to probe the matter where the governor is invited to defend himself. The committee is required to present within ten days a report in the house on its findings which are heard before the Senate.
If a vote in the Senate fails to result in the removal of the governor he can continue serving and another impeachment can only be introduced after three months. Mr Wambora was Tuesday censured by County Assembly members over corruption allegations. Some 22 out of 33 members voted for his removal.
The assembly accused Mr Wambora of corruption involving Sh33 million after he refused to suspend Embu county secretary Lorna Kariuki over the handling of the tenders for renovation of Moi Stadium and procurement of seeds for distribution to farmers.
“This assembly resolves to remove the governor of the Embu County from office for co-superintending over gross violation of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005, the Public Finance Management Act 2012 and the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” read the impeachment motion.
The MCAs debated the motion despite a court order which Speaker Justice Kariuki Mate said was “incompetent” as it had no court seal. Mr Wambora had on January 23 secured the order from Kerugoya High Court Judge Cecilia Githua restraining the assembly from removing him from office.
The orders had suspended the impeachment motion until February 5 when the matter would be placed before Embu resident judge Hedwig On’gudi for direction.