Elections Bill set aside over hitch

June 14, 2011 5:35 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) on Tuesday said it was unable to conclude the Elections Bill because crucial clarifications on devolution were not ready.

Speaking to journalists in Nairobi, CIC Chairman Charles Nyachae explained that the commission was waiting for clarification on issues touching on elections from the Taskforce on Devolved Government. 

Mr Nyachae added that the Elections Bill, which seeks to govern the manner in which the country’s national and county elections will be conducted, is on hold until all the issues were resolved.

“It would be pretty pointless and irresponsible of us to rush the Elections Bill through without reference to what the Taskforce on devolution is doing and then say we have adhered to the timelines. That is not our business,” he said.

Although Mr Nyachae admitted that the Elections Bill was behind schedule, he maintained that there was no need to worry saying that the Bills would be ready by August 26.

The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution provides August 26 as the date by which all laws governing elections must be ready.

“But more importantly is to understand that it does not affect the Constitutional timelines which we are bound by and which we intend to meet. So there’s no cause for alarm,” said Mr Nyachae.

However the delay in passing this Bill is raising concern among various Kenyans who argue that time is running out.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Mutula Kilonzo, has in the past called for the speedy implementation of this Bill together with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Bill.

The Secretary in charge of constitutional affairs at the Ministry of Justice, Gichira Kibara, also discounted the stance taken by the CIC saying time was running out.

He argued that the laxity witnessed in implementing the crucial Bills risked hampering next year’s elections.

“We know that whether there are deadlines in the Constitution or not, we must start preparing for the next elections. Electoral management bodies in any country normally require 18 months to prepare for an election,” he said.

“Now we are coming to a situation where we will soon have less than one year to prepare; the implication of that can be very serious,” he argued.

He added that the country ought to put in place adequate measures that would guide next year’s elections to prevent a repeat of the 2007 post election violence. He also said that the next elections would be a taxing affair if proper guidelines were not put in place.

The IEBC Bill is key to next year\’s elections as it establishes an independent electoral body that will manage elections in the country and conclude the contentious delimitation of constituency boundaries.

According to the CIC website the IEBC Bill, which is also required for next year’s elections, is still waiting for presidential assent despite being finalised in March.

Mr Nyachae added that the commission had already submitted the Political Parties Bill to the Attorney General but that the Bill had not yet been submitted to the Cabinet for approval.

CIC Commissioner in charge of devolution Peter Wanyande also reitertated Mr Nyachae’s remarks saying that there was no cause for alarm.

The CIC, Parliament and the Attorney General, agreed to have the Elections Bill ready by last week.

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