CIOC rejects Bill to change poll date

November 10, 2011 3:39 pm


CIOC opposes haphazard amendment of the Constitution/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 10 – The Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee on Thursday declared its opposition to the Cabinet-sponsored Bill to amend the Constitution.

CIOC chairman Abdikadir Mohammed told reporters that the Cabinet proposal to change the election date from the second Tuesday of August to the third Monday of December of every fifth year should be dropped.

“Our view is that this Bill ought not to be introduced. Amendment of the Constitution should be handled with a lot of restraint,” the CIOC chairman said. “We are coming from a past where we had very many amendments on very flimsy grounds to an extent that its soul was mutilated.”

The committee noted that it was wrong to put together the amendment to manage the two-thirds gender threshold in elective posts, with the proposal to change the election date.

“The issue of the election date does not require an amendment,” Mr Mohammed said. “Amending the Constitution is not a simple thing. It should not be used to clarify things that are already being handled by the appropriate arm of government. Since the courts are seized of this matter, we should wait!”

He added that the CIOC held the view that the country should not be subjected to haphazard amendment of the Constitution because that will erode the country’s budding democracy.

“(Parliament’s power) to amend the Constitution should be used when it is absolutely necessary. Our view is that during this transition period, we must initiate a proper constitutional culture,” said the CIOC chairman.

He added that the 80 new constituencies should be included in the next polls, because it will be illegal to have constituencies less than the 290 stipulated in the Constitution. Kenya currently has 210 constituencies.

The remaining 80 are top of the list of the task that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has to conclude in the next four months.

The CIOC chairman said his committee backed a December election date for next year, because Parliament has to serve its full five-year term. He said that subsequent election would then follow the August date outlined in the constitution.

At the same time, Abdikadir absolved his team from a procedural blunder that led to the admission of the controversial Bill in the House during Wednesday’s afternoon session.

He said the process of First Reading of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, was “not a mechanical exercise but should be informed by substance”.

The parliamentary team wants Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo to respond to the issues raised about the validity of the Bill, for the MPs to sanction the First Reading.

Confusion marked Thursday’s session as Deputy Leader of Government Business Amos Kimunya and Public Service minister Dalmas Otieno differed on the status of the Bill, with the latter claiming that the Bill was not formally before the House.

Kimunya then said the Bill had been introduced, only that that introduction of the Bill “had not been concluded.”

The fate of the Bill will be decided on Tuesday.


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