, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 22 – Close to 100 of the current MPs may have locked themselves out of the next general election, after they approved a clause in the Elections Act requiring aspirants for the presidential, governor and parliamentary seats to be degree holders.
Chepalungu MP Issac Ruto said most MPs did not understand the import of the changes they made to the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill following amendments by Deputy Leader of Government Business Amos Kimunya and Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo.
“I think half of Parliament will not qualify for re-election on the basis alone of this requirement of a degree,” he said.
“I don’t know whether Parliament went overboard in embracing education or it actually lowered it, what in my view we had done on Wednesday night was not too bad,” Ruto added.
Ruto said at least 75 MPs have signed a petition seeking to reverse the decision reached earlier during the morning session on Thursday.
On Wednesday, MPs passed an amendment introduced by Bura MP Abdi Nuh to the elections law to remove the requirement that presidential, parliamentary and senator aspirants must have university degrees.
”Some of them have been in Parliament for 15 to 20 years, isn’t that more than going through university if for the purpose of leadership. If the people where they come from have confidence in them and have been able to be re-elected.”
The Chepalungu MP said he was opposed to the degree requirement because it is discriminatory saying the academic mark should have been left at secondary school level.
“I want you to understand the nature of the National Assembly, it is a representative assembly! We are not going to have Parliament becoming a senior common room like that of the University of Nairobi where you only meet dons – you will make Parliament elitist.”
He said: “Remember next year we are supposed to nominate workers union (among the 12 persons from special interest groups) how many university degree holders qualify as workers union representatives and how many are unionasble with (Central Organisations of Trade Unions Secretary General) Atwoli?”.
On Wednesday, MPs passed an amendment to the elections law to remove the requirement that presidential, parliamentary and senator aspirants must have university degrees.
It was meant to allow current MPs and councillors to defend their seats without being subjected to the education qualification requirements.
However, on Thursday morning the new provision was deleted following an amendment proposed by Kimunya who argued that MPs must hold high academic qualifications since they will play a major oversight role and determine the quality of holders of constitutional offices.