NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – Parliament was on Thursday afternoon expected to vote on the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill that seeks to entrench a Special Tribunal in the Constitution.,
Members of Parliament had failed to vote on the Bill to establish a local tribunal to try post election violence suspects on Tuesday, due to lack of quorum.
At the time, Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim had ruled that the vote takes place next week Tuesday.
However the House Business Committee which is in charge of what is debated in the House placed the Bill on Thursday’s Order paper.
Being a Constitutional Bill, it requires the support of at least 145 of the 222 MPs to sail through. If blocked, it can only be reintroduced after a six-month lapse.
At the time of the anticipated vote on Tuesday there were only 119 MPs present in the chamber. This was the second time voting was deferred due to the absence of lawmakers.
On Tuesday a meeting of Cabinet Minister and their Assistants chaired by President Mwai Kibaki agreed that voting be shelved to allow further consultations amid fears that it would be shot down by mainly dissenting backbenchers.
Speaking after the meeting Internal Security Minister George Saitoti told journalists that Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee along with the Serena Mediation team would give audience to all MPs who wanted to propose amendments to the Bill.
The whole idea he said, was to ensure that the country had a tribunal that was acceptable to all Kenyans.
Meanwhile, Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara has told Capital News that legislators opposed to the Bill had vowed to be present in the House to ensure they had the necessary numbers to defeat it.
“We have decided that we will provide the necessary quorum and then vote against the Bill, so Kenyans know who is for impunity. Let’s not be vague, let’s send the criminals to The Hague,” Mr Imanyara said.
He and other ‘naysayers’ need the support of 78 MPs to oppose the Bill. The lawyer was the first MP to accuse the government of rushing the Bill through Parliament and since then it has been difficult for the government to marshal the numbers to pass it.
Those for the Special Tribunal argue that it will preserve Kenya’s sovereignty while those who favour the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, say local courts are susceptible to manipulation.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Moses Wetangula however told Parliament on Wednesday that Kenya’s sovereignty would in no way be undermined if the post poll violence perpetrators are tried at the ICC.
He said having signed the Rome statute that created the ICC, Kenya became part of international jurisprudence.