Garissa county assembly staff down tools for second day
Operations at the Garissa County Assembly were paralysed for the second day yesterday after staff downed their tools protesting against the Speaker, whom ward representatives have vowed to impeach.
Staff who had reported to work converged in one corner within the assembly precincts and vowed not to resume work until their demands are met.
Addressing journalists after the county assembly board refused to heed their pleas, the staff alleged that they live in a “state of fear” since the Speaker, Mr Ahmed Ibrahim Abass, had made it a habit of condemning them even inside the chambers.
"The Speaker has physically assaulted some staff; it is also on record that he has verbally abused many and called them goons inside the chambers. This assembly has a leadership problem," claimed Mr Abdullahi Olow, who is the staff union chair.
Sources told the Nation that on Wednesday evening, the County Executive Committee Member in charge of Finance visited the assembly and tried in vain to convince the assembly staff to go back to work. The staff wanted to have an audience with the board.
Some MCAs who accompanied the staff vowed to initiate a process to impeach the Speaker whom they claimed is more of a politician and not one capable of moderating debates.
Garissa Township Ward Rep Mohamud Omar, who is the chairman of welfare at the county, said the assembly board must respect and listen to complaints from the staff.
He said all members of staff have a right to be treated with dignity and respect, adding that they will start the process of removing the Speaker and also disband the assembly's board.
The county assembly board comprises two members representing MCAs, two representing the public, the clerk who is the secretary to the board, and the Speaker who is the chairperson.
Fafi Ward Rep Hassan Halane claimed that the assembly members have been held “hostage” by the Speaker who he claimed has also been controlling board members.
Mr Abass, who was the Member of Parliament for Ijara in 2013 on an ODM ticket, was floored by his arch political rival, Mrs Sophia Abdinoor, of PDR in the 2017 elections.
Mr Abass is a close confidant of Garissa Governor Ali Korane.
Last month, the governor claimed that powerful politicians from Nairobi have been planning to oust the Speaker with the aim of destabilising his administration.
It is not clear whether the latest problem in the assembly has any links with the governor's recent claims.
Efforts to get a comment from the Speaker were unsuccessful as he did not pick our calls and neither did he respond to text messages. However, Governor Korane promised to stand with the assembly's leadership.