NAIVASHA, Kenya, Sep 14 – The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) has rejected a plan by the Cabinet to alter the general election date, terming it ‘mischief and an act of impunity’.
CIC chairman Charles Nyachae maintains that the next general election should be held on August 14 next year, which is the second Tuesday of August as required by the Constitution.
“If Kenyans accept such amendments the nation will have started on a slippery slope which could well sign the death knell of the Constitutional dispensation.
“All progressive MPs and the people of Kenya must say No or forever remain liable to future generations for killing the reform dreams,” Nyachae said in a briefing in Naivasha.
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 Cabinet explained that the setting of the national election’s date on the third Monday of December was arrived at after they found the date to be appropriate in view of the government’s budgetary cycle.
“The Cabinet was aware of the budget cycle when it appealed to the people of Kenya to vote for the Constitution. And if allowed there would be likely no ends to the Constitutional amendments,” he said.
CIC Commissioner Kamotho Waiganjo said the Cabinet should also wait for the pending Supreme Court interpretation on the date of the next general elections.
“There is a pending application before the Supreme Court on the interpretation of the election date and the move by Cabinet in essence compromises that case,” Waiganjo 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 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.”