NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 18 – The government will next ask Parliament to extend its sittings in order to pass the pending constitutional implementation Bills.
Deputy Leader of Government Business Amos Kimunya appealed to MPs to be prepared to burn the midnight oil to ensure that the country beats the August 27 deadline by when the pending 18 new pieces of legislation should be enacted.
His statement came as the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) separately maintained its resolve to ensure Parliament passes all the pending Bills in a record week’s time.
CIOC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed expressed confidence the deadline would be met, noting that there were already more than five Bills before Parliament and three of them were on Thursday’s order paper.
He also revealed that his committee had forwarded all the Bills to the Cabinet after taking them up on August 9, when it accused the Executive of failing to pull its weight in the implementation process.
“At least they have given us something to work on because our issue was that we (Parliament) had nothing to do. Plus, we also benefit from their discussions because if they agree as Cabinet that counts for something on the floor,” he explained.
Last Tuesday, the CIOC said that it had received 12 Bills from Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo which it intended to scrutinise and polish before publishing.
The Committee said it had received the Independent Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission Bill, the Commission on Revenue Allocation Bill, the Police Service Bill, the Police Service Commission Bill and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Bill.
Others are the Employment and labour Relations Bill, the Elections Bill, the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Bill, the Kenya Citizens and Foreign National Management Service Bill, the Urban Areas and Cities Bill, the Environment and Land Court Bill and the Power of Mercy Bill.
The committee however noted that it had not received the Commission on Revenue Allocation Bill, which was awaiting publication by the Government Printer, together with the Public Financial Management Bill which was undergoing stakeholder review.
Meanwhile Mr Mohammed has also assured Kenyans that his committee will push for quality Bills despite the tight timelines.
Various sections of the public have raised concern over the implementation process saying that MPs risk passing shoddy laws to beat the deadline. Concerns have already arisen surrounding the legality of the Political Parties Bill, whose amendments had been agreed on by the legislators on Tuesday, before the issue was revisited on Wednesday evening.
Kisumu MP Olago Aluoch kicked off the heated debate when he brought up the issue of coalitions as laid out in the amended Political Parties Bill. Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim however said he would issue a ruling on whether or not the Bill was illegal.
Although the CIOC Chair insisted that the August 27 deadline would not be extended, he admitted that there was a likelihood that the Elections Bill, the Political Parties Bill and the Public Financial Management Bill would go beyond the deadline.
“We might have political fights or policy fights on these Bills, which is normal, so they can delay. But on the other Bills there is a broad consensus so we will have them on time,” he argued.
The CIOC also revealed that the number of commissioners in the, yet to constituted Kenya National Human Rights Commission, would be reduced from the current 10 (sitting in the former Kenya National Commission on Human Rights), including the Chairperson, to five.
Mr Mohammed added that the Ombudsman Commission would have three commissioners including the chairperson so as to cut down on cost implications.
“Because of cost issues we have reduced the number of commissioners to four plus the chair for the human rights commission and three for the Commission on Administration of Justice commission. This will come to the House on Thursday afternoon,” he said.
He further noted that although the commissions will be separated, their accomplishments will be reviewed by Parliament after five years when MPs will decide whether or not to merge them.