Mutula presses on with divisive polls law

November 14, 2011 3:36 pm


Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 14 – Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo will go ahead and present the controversial Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill on Tuesday, but has a back-up plan in case MPs shoot it down.

He says if the Bill is defeated, he will split it into three distinct parts to have a law to reserve seats for women, amend the election date, and create 80 new constituencies.

“”It should not be seen as if the issues are piggy-back riding on each other. I just didn’t want to bring the issues separately because of the constraints of time and opening up the Constitution to several amendments,” he said.

He says he may be forced to take this action because MPs have threatened to vote against it on the basis that the three issues should not be lumped together in one Bill, but he contends they all touch on elections.

Speaking to Capital News, Kilonzo maintained that the Bill raised pertinent issues that ought to be resolved before time runs out, noting that MPs had so far skipped two sessions, during which the Bill was supposed to be introduced.

Although several MPs claim that the Executive’s move is ill-informed, Kilonzo said that the amendments would clear up the existing grey areas in the Constitution as well as seal any loopholes.

“When you are building a house and you discover that the roof is leaking, wouldn’t you want to repair that? Would you tell your family to move in, knowing that the roof has an issue and then they end up getting sick? Is that what you would want for your country?” he asked.

He further observed that the amendments he sought would only alter the Chapters of the Constitution that are already suspended. These include the provisions of Articles 89 and 90 under Chapter seven as well as Articles 97, 98, 101 under Chapter eight.

According to the Section 2 under the Sixth Schedule, Chapters Seven and Eight of the Constitution are suspended until the final announcement of all the results of next year’s polls.

Kilonzo added that his move only wanted to shelve Kenyans from any arising issues that could crop up after the elections.

“Again I want to save you from the leaking roof. Surely how can someone call this an omnibus? All the Articles I want to amend are currently suspended. I saw what Joseph Kamotho wrote on your website and he has also missed it,” he stressed.

“I’m not interfering with anything you are enjoying right now,” he said.

Kilonzo also discounted claims by legislators that the Executive was bundling the amendments into one Bill in order to stop the proper scrutiny of the issues.

He maintained that the amendments would not dilute any provisions on gender provisions and were also not meant to cut short the term of the sitting MPs.

Kilonzo intends to reintroduce the Bill to Parliament on Tuesday afternoon and present his convictions to the House when the time comes. However the Bill can only be debated after 90 days from the date of its first reading.

He said that he would use the 90-day period to educate Kenyans on the amendments.

He added that resolving the uncertainties would also ensure that there was no repeat of the deadly 2007 post election violence.

“I was there in 2008 when you were uprooting a railway line; I was there when men were raping our women and when a child was plucked from a mother’s back, on live television and thrown into a fire. The excuse was that elections had been rigged,” he cited.

He also reiterated his past statements saying that an August election was impossible. Kilonzo wants Kenyans to hold their general elections on the third Monday of December, every five years.

Kilonzo further warned Kenyans against following populist ideologies against the amendment of the Constitution noting that they risked derailing the gains of the Constitution.

“The only thing that cannot be amended is the Bible and the Koran; the Constitution even has provisions on its amendment,” he quipped.

He further clarified that a sitting Head of State would continue serving until the next President was sworn in.

Kilonzo also wants to amend Article 89 (9) so as to remove the term ‘dissolution of Parliament’. The Article states that that boundaries and wards determined by the new electoral body shall only come into effect after Parliament is dissolved.

Kilonzo said that the clause on dissolution was uncertain as it is not clear who should dissolve Parliament.


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