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MPs seek extra time to debate crucial bills

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4- The Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) on Thursday said that it had sought for additional sitting time, from the House Business Committee, for Members of Parliament to debate and pass crucial legislations required before August 27.

CIOC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed said that the MPs would also amend the Standing Orders so as to shorten the time required to draft and pass Bills.

He added that there were still 12 Bills, required by the August deadline, that were yet to be debated and enacted saying that time for shifting blame had already elapsed.

Some of the Bills that are yet to be enacted include those on Article 59 which include human rights commissions, Police Bills, the Commission on Revenue Allocation Bill, the Ethics and Anti Corruption Bill, the Ratification of Treaties Bill, the Employment and Labour Bill, the Elections Bill, Bills on Citizenship, Urban Areas and Cities Bill, the Public Finance Management Bill, Power of Mercy Bill and the Environment and Land Court Bill.

During the close door meeting between all the implementation actors and the CIOC, it emerged that the Bills were being held up at the Attorney General’s (AG) office, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) and the Cabinet.

“We will be asking Parliament to make extra sitting time and look for every avenue or mechanism under our Standing Orders to allow for this work to be completed. Our internal discussions with Parliament have gone far and are almost concluded,” he said.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission, the Commission on Revenue Allocation, the Kenya Law Reform Commission, the devolution taskforce, the Interim Independent Electoral Commission, House Speaker Kenneth Marende, Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, Environmental Minister John Michuki, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo as well as a representative of the AG were all present.

The CIOC Chair further said that his committee would meet again on August 8 to review the progress on the 12 Bills before deciding on the way forward. He explained that MPs would take up the publication of Bills that would not have made any progress by then.

“We expect quite a number of Bills to be published before Tuesday. Tomorrow there will be a meeting by the Cabinet sub committee on the implementation of the Constitution; the AG and the CIC will also be sitting this weekend,” he observed.

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“So we will sit on Tuesday and review the progress,” he added.

He also explained that his committee would break into three sub committees so as to handle the workload surrounding the implementation of the Constitution.

Mr Mohammed also said that the controversial clause in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Act would be amended through an Act of Parliament. He explained that the magnitude of the error in the Bill could not just be corrected verbally but required an official application by the CIC.

The IEBC Act states that the salaries of the IEBC staff and commissioners will be determined by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. However the Commissioners are Constitutional office holders while the members of staff are not.

“This is a problem so sensitive that it can wreck the entire process so we need this process to be negotiated and settled. In fact it is the only constitutional way of doing it and we expect the CIC to come and tell us what their view is,” he argued.

He also revealed that his committee had unanimously approved Samuel Kobia for appointment into the Judicial Service Commission to replace Bishop Anthony Muheria. Dr Kobia’s name was scheduled to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday afternoon for debate before he can be appointed.

The CIOC also announced that it would, in the next 14 days, vet the nominees of the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board.

Sharad Rao has been nominated for position of Chairperson while Justus Maithya, Roseline Odhiambo, Prof Ngotho wa Kariuki, Meuludi Mabruki and Abdirashid Abdullahi were nominated as members. However these nominees are all Kenyans but the Constitution states that three of them should be foreigners.

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