There are many reasons to remove or impeach a county governor in Kenya. The Constitution mandates parliament to come up with laws to guide the process of impeaching a county governor.
Grounds for the removal of a county governor
Article 181 of the Constitution provides the grounds for the removal of a county governor:
- Gross violation of the Constitution or any other law.
- Where there are serious reasons to believe that the county governor has committed a crime under national or international law.
- Abuse of office or gross misconduct.
- Physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office of the county governor.
Article 181 also mandates parliament to come up with a law with the procedure to remove a county governor. The procedure depends on the grounds above. The 10th parliament incorporated the procedure in the County Governments Act.
Procedure for the removal of a county governor
Section 33 of the County Governments Act contains the procedure for the removal of a county governor.
The county assembly moves a motion to impeach the county governor
A Member of the County Assembly moves a motion to remove a county governor by a notice to the speaker. The member relies on the grounds to remove a county governor to move the motion (Article 181). The member must receive the support of two thirds of all the other members to move the motion.
If the motion goes through, the county assembly speaker informs the speaker of the senate within two days. The information is in writing and refers to the county assembly resolution passed to impeach the governor. The governor continues to perform the functions of the office pending the outcome of the impeachment process.
Role of the Senate in the impeachment process
The speaker of the senate then convenes a meeting of the senate. The meeting is to hear the charges the county assembly brought against the governor. The senate, by a determination, then appoints a special committee comprising of eleven of its members to investigate the matter. The senate meeting and the appointment of the special committee should occur within seven days. That is, seven days from the day the senate speaker received the notice of the resolution to impeach the county governor.
The 11-member special committee of the Senate should then investigate the matter. The committee should report to the Senate within ten days. It should report whether there it finds proof for the charges the accuser brought against the governor. The governor has the right to appear and to be represented before the committee during the duration of its investigations.
Further proceedings do not take place if the special committee finds no proof against the allegations facing the governor. If it finds proof, the Senate proceeds to vote on impeachment charges. The vote only takes place after the assurance that the governor receives a fair hearing.
If a majority of the senators votes to uphold the impeachment charge, the governor ceases to hold office. If the senators vote to reject the impeachment charge, the senate speaker should notify the speaker of the respective county assembly.
Any member of the county assembly can only introduce the same charges before the assembly after three months from the day the Senate votes against the impeachment charges.
The procedure for the removal of the President on grounds of incapacity under Article 144 of the Constitution should apply, with necessary modifications, to the removal of a governor.
Vacancy in the office of the county governor
Article 182 of the constitution provides for the procedure to fill a vacancy in the office of the county governor. When the Senate impeaches the governor, the deputy governor shall assume office as county governor. The deputy governor shall serve for the remainder of the term of the county governor.
However, if the deputy speaker cannot assume the office of the governor, the assembly speaker should act as the county governor. Elections for the office of the governor should occur within sixty days after the speaker assumes the office.
The vacancy does not occur if the senate rejects the impeachment charges facing the governor. It also does not occur when the special committee finds no proof for those charges since no further proceedings take place.