Imanyara rules out gender constitutional crisis

July 23, 2011 11:21 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 22-The constitutional requirement that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender may not put the country into a constitutional crisis after all.

According to Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara, an appropriate formula will be incorporated in the Elections bill that is now in parliament.

Mr Imayara who spoke to Capital News asserted that the High Court will step in for further interpretation in case the threshold is not achieved.

“There will be no crisis because we have a High Court to deal with such eventualities, the challenge is to craft an electoral law that requires political parties to come up with nomination lists that are in conformity with the constitution,” he said.

“We are not reinventing the wheel. The African National Congress in South Africa does it, Rwanda has a parliament with more than 50 percent women and we will ensure that a law is passed in parliament with an appropriate formula to guarantee the constitutional threshold is met,” he assured.

Mr Imanyara warned that the proposal by women that has been incorporated in the Elections Bill risks being annulled because of its inconsistencies with the constitution especially by failing to provide a fair platform for independent candidates.

“The constitution provides for equality to all but at the same time provides for affirmative action, the proposal by women will be unconstitutional. We can achieve the constitutional threshold without necessarily setting aside special constituencies for women,” he reiterated.

“What the electoral laws can do is to provide measures geared to attaining an objective, but it’s a long term objective not a one day one. There must be civic education for women to participate more in politics,” he further stated.

Mr Imanyara also challenged womenfolk not to take the easy route through legislation even though politics has traditionally been dominated by men.

“The message must reach the Kenyan women that this is not a favour men will do for them they must fight for it, they are as much part and parcel of the Kenyan population as the men,” he affirmed

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) has already  proposed a formula in the Elections Bill that will ensure 72 constituencies are set aside exclusively for women candidates in future general elections to ensure the constitutional one-third gender quota is attained in the National Assembly.

According to the formula, the 72 constituencies would be randomly selected through balloting, and the formula would be applied on a rotational basis.

IIEC Chairman Issack Hassan said the formula seeks to ensure that at least 117 women make it to the 350-member National Assembly.


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