Electoral Commission Bill finally before MPs

April 13, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 13 – Parliament on Wednesday set in motion the process of debating two crucial Bills on the implementation of the Constitution.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo formally introduced the Bills on the establishment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and that of Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

The law on the creation of a new electoral body should be in place by next month in line with the new constitution.

The IEBC needs time after its formation to recruit staff, train them and also get sufficient funds for civic education on electoral processes.

The commission will also need some months to prepare the public on how to vote, voting procedures and have consensus on what should be contained on ballot papers for the eight offices in each county plus other logistics.

The commission will be expected to resolve the standoff over the distribution of new constituencies within six months of being set up. It also provides guidelines on how the IEBC will be constituted, with a few members of the interim bodies it replaces being retained.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission\’s authority is mainly to set and review the remuneration of all state officers.  It is also empowered to advise the national and county governments on remuneration and benefits of all other public officers.

The constitution provides guidelines by which the Salaries and Remuneration Commission shall adhere to in considering the issue of salaries and remuneration of the public officers. The Commission will have to ensure that the total compensation bill for the Public Service is sustainable while ensuring that the Public Service attracts and retains competent staff.

Meanwhile, the government has moved to reduce the amount of time it would take to publicise the Bills from 14 days to seven days.

Nairobi Metropolitan Development Minister Robinson Githae, who moved the Motion to limit the period of publication on behalf of the government, said that the move was aimed at enabling the House to live within the implementation deadlines.

During the opening of the Special Session of Parliament, President Mwai Kibaki urged MPs to pass 33 reform Bills which will be brought before them before the year ends.

He also said that the respective line ministries and reform institutions which have been charged with originating bills had come up with a new work plan which will see them hold consultation seminars that will solve the issue of delays.

"The teething problems that were there have now been ironed out.  The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution and the Constitutional Oversight Implementation Commission and the Attorney General have agreed that whenever a Bill is ready they will be meeting in one room, they give their comments instead of the current arrangement, this way all the parties give their comments and will be in a position to bring more bills to the House," Mr Githae said.

In an attempt to build consensus especially among parliamentarians, Mr Githae said that there would be retreats to enable MPs agree on amendments which can then be endorsed by the House.

An attempt by Nominated MP George Nyamweya to divert the debate by reawakening the row in the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs where eight member of the team want to eject Chairman Ababu Namwamba was blocked by ODM MPs who said he was trying to stop the implementation process.

Mr Nyamweya said:" The fact that we may reduce the days might face an obstacle because there is no legal committee which is capable of meeting and processing many of these bills. Eight members have written expressing that we don\’t have confidence in our chairman and that matter remains unresolved.  The House must be aware that they will have to face that severe obstacle."

Constitutional Oversight Implementation Commission vice chairperson Millie Odhiambo supported the Motion saying that it will help the House meet the deadlines.

She added that the impasse in the Legal Affairs Committee was being handled by the Speaker, claiming that: "The ones who are crying foul are the ones who are creating trouble."

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