, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 21 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo has strongly denied reports that he is planning to withdraw the Cabinet-sponsored Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill.
Kilonzo told journalists on Monday that he would not withdraw the Bill – which has previously been listed on the Order Paper but has yet to be read for the first time due disputes – as it is key in bringing clarity to the gray areas of the Constitution.
He maintained that he would continue pushing for the Bill in Parliament, further warning of dire consequences in the event that it was rejected.
The Bill seeks to change the poll date to the third Monday of December every five years; proposes a formula that will ensure gender parity in elective posts in addition to laying down the principles on the delimitation of new boundaries.
“I have seen some media reports suggesting that I am withdrawing my Bill… perish that thought! That I cannot do; anybody waiting for me to do that is wasting their time,” he retorted.
“I want you to reject it in Parliament like you did my recommendations for a local tribunal and then you take the responsibility but Mutula will not be asked why in Heaven,” he quipped.
Kilonzo added that it would be impossible to hold next year’s election in August given the time constraints. He argued that Kenyans would get a definite answer on the election date once the Bill was passed noting that it would help ensure electoral reforms.
However the matter on the election date is currently before the High Court awaiting determination.
“If I pretend that I can give you an election in August or that I can ignore the gender parity provision and that everything is okay I will merely be acting like my predecessors who have presided over flawed elections,” he said.
While Members of Parliament admit that it will be impossible to hold the forthcoming elections in August, they argue that future polls should not be held in December.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission also says that the poll date should only be moved to December for the upcoming general elections.
Speaking to Capital News, the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) chairman Abdikadir Mohammed said that it would be improper to move the poll date to December in order to accommodate the country’s budget cycle as well as that of the East African community.
Mohammed discounted the justification maintaining that the Constitution was the supreme law of the land.
“The Constitution is the basic law; everything else gets organised around it including our trade and foreign relations,” stressed Mohammed.
Last week, Kilonzo together with fellow lawmakers had a chance to present their case for or against the Bill before House Speaker Kenneth Marende decides whether or not to clear it for the first reading.
While the MPs expressed concerns that there was no consensus before the publication of the Bill, Kilonzo explained that he would consult them after the first reading.
The legislators have threatened to shoot it down if it makes it past the first reading.
The CIOC is also of the opinion that the issues raised in the Bill do not call for an amendment of the Constitution.
“They are issues, yes, but they are not sufficient enough to warrant us to seek an amendment of the Constitution. In our opinion the issues on the elective date as well as that of the new boundaries deal with interpretation,” explained Mohammed.