Senate approves amendments to elections law

January 6, 2017 9:18 am
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The Senators failed to delete Clause 32 from the Bill which was sponsored by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior because it undermines the role of the Senate/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 6 – Jubilee Coalition Senators once again put up a spirited fight to ensure they carried the day as the Senate adopted amendments to the election laws including one that undermined its own authority in over-sighting the operations of the counties.

The Senators failed to delete Clause 32 from the Bill which was sponsored by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior because it undermines the role of the Senate.

When the matter was put to vote, 10 Senators voted in support while 20 others voted against it.

This means the Elections (Amendment) Laws Bill has been passed with no amendments and will now be transmitted back to the National Assembly and for onward transmission to the President for assent.

Twenty six Senators voted in support of the Amendment Bill while 10 Senators voted against the Bill in the Special Sitting which adjourned at 1145pm.

Senators had earlier clearly shown their division in the debate on the contentious Electoral (Amendment) Laws Bill in the ongoing session characterized by emotions and tempers across the political divide.

Siaya Senator James Orengo who co-chaired the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on the IEBC Reforms pleaded with the Senators for close to 10 minutes against approving the Bill which, he insisted, was unconstitutional.

“Parliament, this is unconstitutional, let it not pass. I urge you to reject this Bill. I urged Senator Beth Mugo to educate her people. This Government is going to punish you more than it will punish me. You will be running to our office, it will chew you,” he warned.

He has urged Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi who was his co-chair in the bi-partisan House team to reject the amendment, noting that supporting the latter would be a betrayal to their days in the struggle for multi party democracy.

If Kiraitu votes for this Bill, I will remember forever that the struggles we carried on the streets were for nothing,” he said.

Murungi however went on to back the Bill saying: “The law gives an MP absolute freedom to vote for the Bill. No one should interfere with a member’s freedom to vote. I am sorry but I have to support the Bill.”

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi questioned why the Jubilee Coalition seemed to be walking away from the digital system in favour of analogue.

“Kenya is a hub of technology. Silicon Valley. What is important is the complimentary mechanisms. Who is going to set the mechanism, Is it IEBC? Do you trust them? No! These are the issues. Watch my vote Mr Speaker Sir,” he said.

CORD Co-Principal and Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma) cautioned the House against approving provisions that will undermine the Senate by allowing the National Assembly authority to oversee the delimitation of boundaries, saying it is akin to a former Russian President who reformed themselves out of office.

“I feel embarrassed that we want to pass a provision in the law vesting the authority of boundaries review on the National Assembly. This is purely partisan, six CORD senators rejected the clause and 10 Jubilee voted to support it,” said Wetang’ula.

“Why should we amend clauses that do not exist yet my colleagues from the majority side are supporting the Bill? Let’s stand tall and refuse to be influenced into doing unconstitutional things. The National Assembly has always rejected Senate Bills, why should we back their own?” Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior asked.

Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o clashed with Nominated Senator Beth Mugo after she demanded that he substantiates claim that the President agreed to the Bill in order to win the August elections.

Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura said the country must guard against any possibility of failure while Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetangula cautioned that the Bill is dangerous for the country.

This led to the presentation of a Minority Report which was annexed by CORD members who had opposed the amendments.

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