NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 9 – The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) on Tuesday forwarded the Elections Bill 2011 to the Attorney General for consideration by the Cabinet.
The Bill is subject to a post-Cabinet review by the CIC in consultation with the AG.
A statement from the Commission said the release was as per the agreed timelines and in accordance with Section 14 of the Sixth Schedule. The final Elections Bill, it added, will be released for publication by August 13.
The disqualification of presidential candidates, six-year imprisonment for errant election officials and public officers are among stiffer penalties proposed to discourage electoral malpractice during elections under the new Constitution.
In what is likely to completely change the electoral playing field, the draft Elections Bill outlines the grounds for the recall of MPs, but imposes a rigorous procedure where only the most discredited MP or Senator would be sent packing.
However, MPs would secure at least three years of their tenure, notwithstanding the recall clause, should the proposals contained in the Bill be retained.
“The recall shall only be initiated 24 months after the election and not later than 12 months immediately preceding the next General Election,” states the draft released by the Commission.
The draft proposes the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission be granted the power to prosecute offences under the envisaged Act and impose sanctions against the person(s) pending determination of the issue.
Currently, prosecution for an offence under the Elections Offences Act can only be instituted with the nod from the Attorney-General.
Furthermore political parties shall submit lists for nominees to the IEBC before the nomination of candidates for election to the National Assembly, Senate and County assemblies.
A presidential candidate or a political party shall not at any time change the person nominated as a deputy presidential candidate after clearance by the Commission.
Other candidates, who use violence against rivals, engage in bribery or in any election offence face disqualification too and the proposed IEBC can postpone elections in affected zones.
“Where a party commits an election offence which the Commission considers to be of a grave nature or continuously repeats the offence, the presidential candidate of the political party shall not be eligible to vie for the presidential seat during the elections or subsequent elections as a result of any vacancy in the president’s seat,” the Bill states.
The Bill introduces an extensive section to bar participation in elections by public officers and discourages the misuse of public resources by incumbents, with offenders risking a six-year jail term and disqualification from the race.
“For the purposes of this section, the Commission shall, in writing require any candidate, who is a Member of Parliament, a Governor, Deputy Governor or a member of a county assembly, to state the facilities attached to them to which this section applies or any equipment normally in their custody by virtue of that office,” states the draft.
Failure to comply with the provision will lead to imprisonment for six years a Sh2 million fine or both. Repeat offenders would be barred from participating in elections altogether and from holding any State office.
It will be an offence for a candidate to initiate new development projects in any constituency or county three months before an election. Upon conviction one is liable to a fine not exceeding Sh6 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years or both.
Elections officials found guilty of fiddling with elections, such as the controversial alteration of forms 4A or falsely counting ballot papers as being cast for a candidate, will be fined Sh1 million or jailed for six years, or both.
Similarly, public officers who agree to be drafted into political campaigns risk Sh200,000 fine or two-year jail-term, or both. A candidate aiding such offence shall be removed from the ballot paper.
The draft Bill prohibits use of force or violence during an election period, with offenders liable to five-year jail term, Sh1 million fine or both.
For nomination by a party for presidential, parliamentary or county government elections, a person must have been a member of that political party at least three months before the date of nomination.
However, parties shall submit to the commission closed party lists of their preferred nominees. Such a system allows the party chiefs to determine the order of its candidates and thus the voter has no influence on the position of the candidates placed on the party list.
In an attempt to clamp down on vote buying, the Bill imposes a Sh1 million fine or imprisonment for six years, or both, to both the buyer and seller.
Conviction for multiple registrations as a voter will attract Sh100,000 fine or one-year jail term with similar punishment for electoral officials and candidates who aid in the offence.