Parliament to re-convene Thursday after chaotic session

December 21, 2016 8:28 am
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The Gazette Notice seen by Capital FM News FM indicates that there will be two sessions, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Photo/FILE.
NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 21 – Following Tuesday’s chaotic Parliamentary session, the Speaker has now called for two more sittings on Thursday to enable MPs finalise debate on the Election Laws Ammendment.

In a Gazette Notice issued on Tuesday night, Speaker Justin Muturi said the MPs will also consider amendments to the Election Financing Act.

The Gazette Notice seen by Capital FM News indicates that there will be two sessions, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Thursday’s business is listed as “Re-committal in the Committee of the Whole House of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 3 of 2015) and consideration thereto of amendments to the Elections Act, 2011 and the Elections Campaign Financing Act, 2013, to commence from the debate interrupted on December 20, 2016, and Third Reading of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 3 of 2015).”

The special session called to deliberate on the matter was interrupted last night when a section of CORD MPs attempted to grab the Mace, forcing a premature adjournment.

Camera recording the proceedings were immediately switched off during the confusion as MPs debated on how to utilise the additional time.

Earlier on Tuesday, MPs from the Opposition had attempted to block the session from starting by blocking the hall-way used by the Speaker and the Mace procession, delaying it for nearly two hours.

Capital News beat has also established that President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for a Parliamentary Group Meeting for his Jubilee Party to be held at State House, Nairobi on Wednesday over the matter.

“Mheshimiwa, we wish to invite you to an urgent and very important Parliamentary Group Meeting at State House, Nairobi, Wednesday 21, December at 1 pm,” a text message sent to Jubilee MPs states.

On Tuesday, National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga was hard-pressed to explain the source of an amendment seeking to introduce new clauses to the Elections Act, allowing the poll agency to come up with a manual way besides technology to identify voters.

Speaker Muturi was forced to intervene and order that Chepkonga submits the Committee Sitting records which proposed key amendments, including providing for a manual backup system for the voting, transmission and tallying of election results.

“Honourable Chepkonga, we may need to see the record of transpired during that day,” he said.

Muturi made the ruling after several members of the Committee led by MPs T.J. Kajwang, Johana Ngeno, Mutahi Kimaru and Dave Ochieng disowned an amendment attributed to the team saying that they never adopted the matter.
Chepkonga had a hectic time trying to convince the House that he only presented an amendment which was proposed by IEBC Chief Executive Ezra Chiloba when he appeared before the House team.

“They are the ones who recommended, Mr. Speaker, that we use manual transmission with regards to the results.
Mr. Speaker I did not know when I came here, I did not know that someone would say this was not discussed in
the committee. But Mr. Speaker we have a matrix that was prepared by Counsel to the Justice and Legal Affairs and I can bring it here and it can be tabled for amendments of the Committee, Mr. Speaker that formed the basis of the report,” he said amid jeers from opposition MPs.

Minority Deputy Leader Jakoyo Midiwo had earlier asked the Speaker to give guidance on the matter after claiming there is mischief in the manner the amendment had been introduced to the House.

“You cannot do something so substantial to any existing law without public participation. Nothing has been published not for the public or even for the members to look at. Mr. Speaker, I want to plead with you not to allow anyone to misuse the law making organ in the country to make wrong laws. The issues he claims, he wants to raise, hypocritically, Honourable Chepkonga had very good amendments, but this (opposition) said Baba amesema and that other side said, Uhuru amesema, and we passed the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee report without amendments,” he stated.

The morning Special Sitting was gazetted to start at 9.30am but ended up kicking off at 12.30pm
The legislators argued that the Special Sitting was convened illegally because Minority Leaders were not involved as required by the Standing Orders.

It was after their meetings that the sitting began at 12.30pm, with House orderlies outmanoeuvring MPs led by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale who attempted to block the entry of the Mace.

Opposition MPs Olago Aluoch and Johanna Ngeno said they were opposed to the proposed amendment by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee seeking to provide for a manual backup system for the voting, transmission and tallying of election results along with adjusting major election timelines.

They argued that the contested law is a product of a politically negotiated process aimed at reforming the electoral infrastructure; hence any amendments to it must follow the same procedure.

Majority Leader Aden Duale also held a closed-door meeting with Jubilee and CORD MPs at the Parliament’s Small Dining Room that involved a presentation from the IEBC to convince lawmakers on the need for the proposed amendments.

He and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwah however, insisted that they will ensure the amendment is passed.

Because the law as presently exists has provisions which infringe on the voters’ constitutional rights to vote, by recognising only the biometric voter identification and electronic transmission of results.

Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu, who was a member of the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee which ironed out a negotiated electoral reform laws, accused Jubilee Coalition of trying to introduce amendments to the law through the backdoor.

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