Kenya to get 325 MPs if draft adopted

January 20, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – The Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review (PSC) has proposed a Parliament with 325 members under the new Constitution.

Sources in Naivasha where the 26-member team is holding a retreat indicated on Wednesday that the legislators voted to set a minimum 266 constituencies with 59 special parliamentary seats to be distributed by mixed member representation.

A stalemate had crowded the third day of the retreat as members haggled over the best way of ensuring fair representation in the country.

Debate on the chapter on Representation spilled from Tuesday night where a proposal to cap parliamentarians at 300 had been adopted. Disagreements however arose on the manner to distribute the seats, prompting demands for more discussions.

Women MPs in the PSC had earlier demanded reservation of 40 seats, adding to the controversy. Disagreements however persist on what to do with at least 18 current constituencies which do not meet an average standard (for representation) and which will be deleted once the boundaries are redrawn.

The committee suspended discussions on representation until Thursday and invited two statistics experts as well as the Interim Independent Boundaries Commission to the retreat to shed more light on the matter.

Members of Parliament from the densely populated areas have on different occasions maintained that the units must be based on ‘one man one vote’ while their counterparts from the sparsely populated have insisted on ‘one kilometer one vote’ criteria.

Currently there are 210 constituencies with 12 nominated members while the Speaker and the Attorney General are ex-officio members. At least 56 new constituencies would be carved out of the existing ones should the proposal sail through.

A key factor in the criteria is how the nominated MPs will be allocated to the political parties, a matter that has been in contention all along. There have been proposals to allocate special seats to women, the youth and persons with disabilities and all these need to be negotiated.

The PSC is in Naivasha to study the revised draft Constitution and make its recommendations for amendments. It is also expected to reach political consensus on the contentious issues of the Executive, Devolution and transitional clauses.

The team is yet to touch on the more controversial chapter of the structure of government where more heated debate is expected.

While the Party of National Unity is pushing for a Presidential system with ‘checks and balances’ the Orange Democratic Movement insists on a Parliamentary system of governance.

Both parties have dismissed the compromise hybrid system proposed by the Committee of Experts on Constitution Review.


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