Kenyan MPs in status battle with governors

  • Published
Supreme Court judges file into parliament in April 2013Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
MPs recently stopped governors from flying the national flag on their cars

Kenyan MPs are debating a proposal to make it a criminal offence to address an official incorrectly at a state function.

Those failing to use the correct honorific would face a $23,000 (£14,000) fine or a one-year jail term.

The BBC's Frenny Jowi says the bill stems from a status struggle between MPs and newly created governors.

The bill puts governors below MPs in the order of rank and stipulates they may only be addressed as "governor".

MPs would have to be referred to as "honourable" and the president as "your excellency".

The Order of Precedence Bill, tabled before parliament for the first time on Thursday, was aimed at "providing a yardstick for determining the proper position of all officers, their seniority and hierarchy for the purpose of state functions", Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reports.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The president would come first in the 12 orders of rank listed in the bill

The legislation would also stop officials from giving themselves titles.

The positions of governors were created in the new constitution adopted in 2010 as part of efforts to decentralise power - the first ones being elected last year.

Our correspondent in the capital Nairobi says the bill is the latest move by Kenya's 349 MPs to keep the 47 governors in their place.

They recently stopped governors from flying the national flag on their cars, which ministers are allowed to do, she adds.

Under the proposed legislation there would be 12 orders of rank, with the president at the top and ambassadors and high commissioners at the bottom.

MPs would be ranked sixth, followed by governors.

The bill has been proposed by Adan Keynan, an MP in the ruling coalition.

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