MPs oppose debate on new boundaries

November 29, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – Cabinet Minister Beth Mugo on Monday said that the debate on the new electoral units should be put on hold until the controversies surrounding it are solved by the courts.

Ms Mugo who was accompanied by Embakasi Member of Parliament Ferdinand Waititu argued that the proposed units were not fair representations of the people and should be deferred pending further direction.

She claimed that gazetting the new units before the irregularities were addressed would only inflame ethnic divisions.

"You cannot legalise a wrong with the intent to correct it later because the new constitution does not have room for political horse trading. Some MPs are indeed arguing that we should wait for the gazettement before going to court which does not make any sense," she said.

Ms Mugo further accused the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC) of favouring one side of the political divide and violating the provisions of the constitution while distributing the new constituencies.

"They (IIBRC) rushed to try and gazette a job that was not finished. They neither consulted the people nor relied on the population data. They just relied on the maps in their office. Do they even know how many people each constituency or ward has?" she asked.

Articles 89 (6) provides that the number of inhabitants of a constituency or ward may be greater or less than the population quota by a margin of not more than 40 percent for cities and 30 percent for sparsely populated areas while Article 89 (7) provides for consultation with the interested parties in reviewing the constituency or ward boundaries.

Mr Waititu further proposed that an independent and professional body be constituted to take up the delimitation exercise from the IIBRC.

The Constitution provides for the new body which will take up the responsibilities of the IIBRC to be formed within a two year period.

A number of MPs are also considering a constitutional amendment to extend the tenure of the Andrew Ligale-led IIBRC until its report is gazetted.

Ms Mugo and Mr Waititu however said they lacked confidence in the IIBRC. They accused the IIBRC of ignoring the recommendations by the Kriegler commission citing the inequitable distribution of resources and representation as the root cause of the 2008 post election violence.

"We can all see what is going on. Nairobi has 74 wards and 17 constituencies meaning most constituencies will have four wards while others will have five. So how come in some instances two wards are joined to form one constituency while in others six wards are joined?" posed Mr Waititu.

However IIBRC Chairman Andrew Ligale on Saturday defended himself from accusations of favouring one section of the government. He blamed the storm generated by the new units on misunderstanding and previous injustices committed to the areas that he was now being accused of favouring.

"If you look at the population of Central and Western it is almost equal and if you look at the proposed delimitations they will now have 34 and 33 constituencies respectively. However western receives nine constituencies while Central gets five since the latter had more constituencies, some of which don\’t meet the population criteria," he said.

The Public Health Minister also asked her fellow MPs to turn down the report when it is tabled in Parliament.

"I want to believe that there are still people who care for this country enough to make sure that there are no injustices in this country and I hope when the time comes, we will have the majority unless we have become voting machines," she said.


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