Should the Speaker Declare Wajir East Parliamentary Seat Vacant?
As pressure mounts on the House speaker, Wajir County protests and women parliamentarians walk out of parliament protesting against the alleged shocking attack by Wajir East MP Rashid Kassim on his Women Rep, Mombasa Governor wades in and calls for the speaker to declare the seat vacant. In a tweet calling for justice for the assaulted legislator, the Mombasa governor calls on the president to make the Wajir east MP and Nairobi Governor an example. However, the president has no powers to declare a seat vacant. A seat can only be declared vacant if a legislator is successfully recalled by his constituents, removed under Article 80, misses 8 consecutive sittings without permission, in the event of death, if he or she resigns and writes to the speaker or the party they were elected on expels them.
Rashid Kassim who allegedly assaulted the Women Rep and has since been arrested, was previously accused of assaulting a woman constituent. This is both shocking and shameless but could only be the hypocritical tip of a huge iceberg. On the campaign trail in the recent Wajir West by-election, the current Wajir West MP was accused of assaulting a woman voter. The voters still went ahead to elect him to parliament. The women Rep assaulted today was one of his chief campaigner. She did not raise a finger against her colleague slapping the woman voter. Assault against women has been on the increase recently including rape of minors. Not a lot of hue and cry was raised by us. How is this for hypocrisy?
All said and done, if events happened as narrated by the Women Rep, this was a shocking and unprovoked assault. Is the legislator mentally fit to serve as a member of parliament? Do we actually take our parliamentary hopefuls through a mental fitness test just like we ask for their academic qualifications? Should this be introduced as a condition?
The alleged assault today also brings into the fore the Equality Conundrum. Women must stop the Western hypocrisy drama. They must stop eating their cake and having it. Is the uproar in the country because a woman was hit or a parliamentarian hit another? When in 1998 former Lagdera’s legislator Farah Maalim allegedly assaulted a male MP from Kisumu, he was applauded, no women or men walked out of parliament? What was the reason for the varying reaction? Is it OK to hit another man? The primitive brawn evolutionary thinking took center stage probably. If we implicitly encourage violence in any form we may end up seeing explicitly exercised in all forms and on all sexes.
It is a new low for the Kenya parliament as Rashid Kassim goes into the annals of history as the first member of parliament to assault a woman parliamentarian. As the law takes its course, culture which has today been assaulted irreparably by the legislator must come into play too. If nothing is done it will signify to the rest of the male population that its ok to hit a woman.