NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 13 – The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a Constitution Amendment Bill that seeks to change the elections date from the second Tuesday of August, to the third Monday of December every fifth year of the elections cycle.
The same Bill also seeks to addresses the challenge of attaining the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule in the National Assembly.
A dispatch from the Presidential Press Service explained that the setting of the national election’s date on the third Monday of December was arrived at after the Cabinet found the date to be appropriate in view of the government’s budgetary cycle.
“The Cabinet considered the time required for preparations for the next elections, especially in regard to the issue of devolution and delineation of constituencies,” the statement said.
The five East African countries have a common financial calendar, which begins in July. Tanzania on its part held its last presidential and parliamentary elections on 31 October 2010, while Uganda conducted its polls on February 18 this year.
Burundi and Rwanda held there national polls in July and August 2010.
The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) has already applied to the Supreme Court for an interpretation on the date of Kenya’s next general elections.
The controversy surrounding the general election date has seen several MPs, lawyers and the CIC differ sharply. While CIC chairman Charles Nyachae maintains that the next general election is to be held on August 14 next year – which is the second Tuesday of August as required by the constitution – a section of MPs insist that they should be held in 2013.
The MPs fronting for the 2013 election date cite the Sixth Schedule which states that the current Parliament shall serve the remainder of its term. The legislators argue that since the current Parliament officially took oath of office on January 15, 2008, its term ends on January 15, 2013.
According to Section 101 of the Constitution, general elections are to take place on the second Tuesday of August every five years.
Kenya’s last elections were held in December 2007 and it is widely expected that the upcoming elections will be held in December of next year.
Part 10 of the Transitional and Consequential Provisions says “The National Assembly existing immediately before the effective date shall continue as the National Assembly for the purposes of this constitution for its unexpired term.”
Meanwhile, the Cabinet also reinforced its decision to drop the constitutional requirement to give women more seats in Parliament.
The PPS statement said the Cabinet’s decision was aimed at ensuring compliance with the two-third single gender cap in all public positions.
The Constitution says that not more than two thirds of the members of elective and appointive public bodies shall be of the same gender.
The Cabinet committee formed to look into the matter as well as women groups had explored the possibility of addressing the matter using Article 177 of the Constitution. The section directs political parties to observe gender equality when making nominations to Parliament and County Assemblies.
Article 177(b) on the composition of County Assemblies, says parties shall provide “the number of special seat members necessary to ensure that no more than two thirds of the membership of the assembly are of the same gender.”