NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 10 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo says the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is ill advised in asking the two principals to dissolve the coalition government this year, as it is still debatable whether the move will lead to a general election.
Kilonzo maintained on Friday that it was crucial for the country to establish, with certainty, what would happen to the current Parliament after the dissolution of the coalition government, as is being advocated by the IEBC.
“The question that arises from the request by the IEBC is whether dissolving the coalition government means dissolving Parliament and I’m waiting for Parliament to resume because I’m sure this matter will arise before the Speaker,” said the minister who has been championing a December poll, but through a Constitutional amendment.
“So it is the method of achieving a December election that I’m interested in, as opposed to the month itself,” he maintained.
The IEBC confirmed to Capital News that it had forwarded its request to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s office asking them to dissolve the coalition by October, which would pave way for a December election date.
But Kilonzo is raising legal doubts that dissolving the coalition would prorogue Parliament, as the Legislature’s calendar is now not under the control of the President.
“The other thing that is being sought other than the dissolution of the coalition government is the question on the term of the 10th Parliament. When does that term end? And if its term cannot be terminated by an individual then what other solution do you have?” he posed.
He added that he would continue pushing for the adoption of the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, which seeks to move the electoral date from August to December every five years.
Kilonzo argued that amendments sought by this Bill would shed light on the grey areas and help bring clarity on the fate of the forthcoming elections in addition to those that will come later.
“We will have to bite the bullet and amend the Constitution so that we eliminate the confusion about the dissolution of Parliament. This Bill will also help kill five birds with one stone because we will be able to secure a firm decision on gender parity,” he said.
He further termed the move by the IEBC as an ‘unfortunate short term solution’ that would not adequately protect Kenyans’ interests.
He also said that it was wrong for the IEBC to set up the next poll date, arguing that it was already set out in the Constitution.
“I belong to the school of thought that says that the IEBC cannot actually set out an election date because it is set by the Constitution. It says at the end of each parliamentary term, you will hold elections in 60 days,” he asserted.
“So this October arrangement proposed by way of a letter is not only irregular for me but also an unfortunate short term solution,” he said.
The High Court ruling however gave the IEBC the power to set the next poll date after the President and Prime Minister agree on when to break the coalition government.
IEBC chairman Issack Hassan on Thursday implored the principals to dissolve the coalition government in October arguing that it would help bring certainty over the next elections.
“It is now up to the principals to help the country and avoid the suspense because it is now unnecessary suspense. They need to come out very clearly and tell us when they intend to dissolve the coalition so that people can start preparing themselves,” he said.