The High Court on Friday temporary suspended the impeachment of Taita Governor Granton Samboja.
In a conservatory order issued by Justice James Makau, the county assembly speaker was barred from submitting to the Senate the resolution recommending the impeachment of the governor.
The assembly was set to notify the Senate on Samboja’s impeachment where senators have to approve the move to send him home.
Samboja was impeached on Wednesday after 30 local Members of County Assembly (MCAs) unanimously voted in favour of a special motion moved by Rong’e MCA Harris Keke after a four-hour debate.
Reacting to the ward representatives decision, Samboja told off the MCAs saying he was ready to walk the path of impeachment.
Issues said to have led to Samboja’s impeachment include failure to submit to the county assembly an annual report on the implementation status of the county policies and plans, misappropriation of funds as well as misleading the people of Taita Taveta in dissolving the county.
The ward representatives also accused Samboja of failing to remit statutory deductions of the relevant institutions including Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), National Social Security Fund (NSSF) among others.
The impeachment followed a protracted row between Samboja and the ward reps over the 2019-20 budget.
The governor had declined to approve the budget after the MCAs slashed the executive’s allocations and instead directed the money – Sh833 million – to the ward development fund.
Jason Tuja, the County Assembly Majority Leader, had stated that efforts to reconcile with the governor had proved futile.
“The governor has become a stumbling block in our efforts to resolve the budget impasse, something that the assembly cannot stomach any more,” said Tuja.
He added, “We have exhausted all avenues available. Our next move is to impeach him.”
On his part, Samboja announced plans to have the assembly dissolved.
He said he had collected 52,100 signatures with the intention of petitioning President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve the assembly.
According to Samboja, the MCAs slashed the county budget estimates, hence denying county government development.
He said the MCAs claim that there are about 1,600 casual labourers at the county, who are paid Sh270 million annually.
“The casuals the MCAs are talking about are nurses and Early Childhood Education (ECD) teachers. Do they want us to sack the nurses and teachers, whereas we are already experiencing a deficit of over 400 nurses?” posed Samboja during a media briefing at his Wundanyi office.