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Motion to control opinion polls withdrawn

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – A Motion that sought government control of opinion polls was abruptly withdrawn on Wednesday morning in Parliament after most MPs opposed it.

MPs who began debate on the Motion by Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau said such a move was unnecessary and was an attempt to limit the constitutional rights of Kenyans.

The MP wanted an Opinion Poll Control Board established to regulate how the surveys are conducted and to guard against propaganda and misinformation.

Only nominated MP Amina Abdalla supported the Motion on Wednesday arguing the polls were mainly done in favour of certain individuals. She claimed the formation of the Board would stem rising manipulation of opinion polls and ensure their credibility.

"When it comes to the polls in FM and TV stations, we send airtimes to our supporters to give opinions in our favour. These things are manipulated!" she said.

Debate on the Motion saw MPs describe it as dangerous, retrogressive and an infringement on constitutional rights. Legislators John Mbadi, Gitobu Imanyara, David Njuguna, Pollyns Ochieng and Rachel Shebesh claimed debate on such a Motion was a waste of time and erodes gains made in democratisation.

"This Motion is dangerous and is not even worth the paper it is written on," Mr Mbadi said.

"We\’ve taken ourselves over 40 years to liberate ourselves from the Kanu era when thoughts, ideas and opinions were controlled. Let\’s not go back there," said Mr Imanyara.

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"Opinions are held by people… the moment you try to control those opinions, you\’ll be acting in the most undemocratic manner."

The rising opposition to the Motion saw Temporary Speaker Ekwe Ethuro to withdraw it after an appeal from Juja MP William Kabogo who cited Standing Order 57 which allows Parliament to withdraw a Motion by leave of the House.

Mr Kamau had based the Motion on the argument that there had been a proliferation of polls which may not reflect the realities of the moment.

Meanwhile, Parliament on Wednesday passed a Motion seeking to establish an electronic voting system in the country to avert a repeat of the 2007 post poll chaos.

The Motion by Karachuonyo MP James Rege received overwhelming support from legislators who said that recommendations of the Kriegler Commission that probed the e bungled election be fully implemented.

The legislators urged the government to fund the electronic voting system ahead of next year\’s general election.

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