VP to ask lawmakers to speed up Bills’ debate

February 14, 2012 5:45 am


Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka/ FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka is on Tuesday expected to introduce a procedural Motion seeking to reduce the publication period of two key Bills that are top on the agenda as the August House resumes business from the Christmas break.

Musyoka, who is the Leader of Government Business, will ask Parliament to start debate on the Intergovernmental Relations Bill and the Transition to Devolved Government Bill within 11 days as opposed to the 14-day period set under Standing Orders.

The two Bills were published on February 3.

The Vice President is at the same time set to introduce a similar Motion to exempt the two Bills – as well as the County Government’s Bill – from going through the relevant departmental committees after their First Reading.

If the Motions succeed, the Bills will be introduced and debated in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, when Parliament resumes sittings.

Parliament’s Standing Orders dictate that a Bill cannot go through the Second Reading on the same day it has been introduced, unless leave is granted by the House.

Although the move is aimed at ensuring that Parliament passes the urgent Bills by February 27, the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) has in the past maintained that no special arrangements should be made to ensure deadlines are met, as was the case last August.

CIOC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed told Capital News that his team would meet on Tuesday morning to discuss the matter and come up with a way forward.

“If you remember we had been running up and down urging the President and Prime Minister to push Parliament to reconvene early but that didn’t work out as we hoped,” he said.

Mohammed also revealed that the CIOC would discuss the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, which is currently before Parliament.

The Bill, which seeks to change the poll date to the third Monday of December every five years, has already met scepticism from the legislators who argue that there was no consensus before it was introduced to the House.

“Tomorrow’s (Tuesday) meeting will also have the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill discussed by the committee and then we will share our sentiments,” he said.

Mohammed has in the past registered disapproval of the Cabinet sponsored Bill arguing that the issues it raises do not merit a constitutional amendment. He instead argues that such changes should be introduced through a Miscellaneous Amendment Bill.

However Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo, who introduced it to the House, maintains that it will help settle concerns surrounding the election date as well as those touching on gender parity.

“The issue is not so much a December election but the procedure of achieving that election. I have already expressed this Bill to the President and Prime Minister because it is far better to give the country long term solutions,” he told Capital News on Friday.

He noted that although the Bill proposed a December 17 poll for the first election under the new Constitution, it was important to establish what would happen to the term of the current Parliament.

“We are left in a conundrum because we cannot dissolve Parliament which is an independent institution – in charge of its own calendar. So we need to get long term solutions to the issue surrounding the elections date, as opposed to coming up with knee jerk solutions,” he said.

Last year, MPs threatened to shoot down the Bill when it came up for debate.

“The only thing that cannot be amended is the Bible and the Koran; the Constitution even has provisions on its amendment,” retorted Kilonzo in an earlier interview.


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