NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 17- The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) continued putting up a spirited fight against a proposed amendment to the Constitution, to alter the general election date from August to December, every fifth poll year.
The commission, in an apparent bid to win public support, published a statement in the media on Saturday arguing why the Cabinet should alter the budget to conform to the election date, instead of changing when the poll would be held to suit the budgetary cycle.
The Cabinet mainly cited interference with the budget cycle as the main reason for advocating for the amendment.
CIC chairman Charles Nyachae said opening up the Constitution to convenience amendments at such an early stage, risked jeopardising the gains envisaged by the new law.
He also noted that the proposed amendments would have a significant drawback on the implementation of the Constitution including aspects touching on devolution.
“Kenyans must be vigilant to ensure that we do not replay the 1963 scenario where due to numerous piece meal amendments, the Constitution became a pale shadow of its original self,” he warned.
He further explained that the uncertainty caused by the Cabinet over the election date was unwarranted.
When newly appointed Attorney General Githu Muigai took over office, he advised against amending the Constitution for convenience purposes.
“In my view we need to be able give this Constitution some sanctity and if each time an issue arises we rush to amend it, then we will fall back into the original problems of the 60s and the 70s,” Prof Muigai had said at the time.
However Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo has already gone ahead with the publication of the Bill to amend the election date.
He defended the Cabinet decision saying that it was aimed at giving Kenyans a definite election date.
“The President and PM ceded ground completely. We must offer leadership to Kenyans; we want to tell Kenyans the actual election date without waiting for another agency of government,” he argued.
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.”