, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6 – National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende has warned Members of Parliament that a persistent Constitutional impasse will force the country into a snap election.
Mr Marende told a crisis meeting of legislators that they needed to resolve the ongoing dispute over the distribution of 80 new constituencies to unlock the stalled implementation of the Constitution or be ready to face the electorate.
“I want to agree with one lawyer who said when there is a constitutional crisis and if it persists that the only exit is elections. Are we ready for an election?” posed the Speaker.
“Have no illusion as we are all in one boat; the President, the Prime Minster and MPs,” he said.
Two weeks ago, the country missed the first constitutional deadline to establish the Commission for Implementation of the Constitution and the Commission for Revenue Allocation when MPs delayed the approval of nominees, in protest at the delayed gazettment of the new electoral units.
The Speaker urged MPs to “shun being reckless because failure is not an option in the process. We must destine to stand together by the only choice.”
Two businessmen have already filed a case at the High Court seeking the dissolution of Parliament for failing to stick by the constitutional deadlines as provided in the law. According to the Constitution, any Kenyan can move to court to call for the dissolution of Parliament should it fail to meet the implementation deadline. The Chief Justice is mandated to advise the President to dissolve the House and call for an election.
The case is awaiting directions by Chief Justice Evan Gicheru.
The Justice and Legal Committee has identified four options that could unlock the deadlock which will be debated and consensus endorsed during Monday’s retreat.
The first option is to extend the life of Interim Independent Boundaries Commission (IIBRC) to re-look at the report and give acceptable boundaries. The second option which has received considerable support involves expediting the formation of the new Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to take up the controversial report of the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission.
The other two options involves seeking political consensus on the boundaries and either gazetting the Andrew Ligale commission’s report as it is, or amending the report to accommodate the concerns of those crying foul before gazettement.
Speaking at the make-or-break retreat, the chairman of the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee Abdikadir Mohammed dismissed the proposal to amend the Constitution and give the Interim Independent Boundaries Commission more time to finish its work.
“It is too early to start amending the new law,” he said. “If we get the political issues unlocked I am sure we will have the legal ways to address the matter.”
The chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Ababu Namwamba which is leading the meeting called on members to be objective and shed off personal interests in the matter.
The MPs are expected to announce the way forward later this evening if they reach consensus.
“This is the opportunity to put all the cards on the table: the new good ones, the safe cards and the dangerous ones,” he pleaded.
“This is the time to ask each other those loaded questions we have been broadcasting in the media or whispering in our trusted networks.