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Rights activists reject amended laws

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – Civil society groups have petitioned President Mwai Kibaki not to assent to the Statute Law Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2012, which contains controversial amendments proposed by MPs on two electoral laws last week.

The groups staged a peaceful demonstration in front of Parliament Buildings and the President’s office at Harambee House where they presented their petition stating the Members of Parliament are enacting the amendments to fit their own best interest.

Speaking on behalf of the groups, Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director Atsango Chesoni said the amendment would allow presidential election losers to be nominated to Parliament, and would deny the youth and women a chance to participate in decision making.

“Amendments made on Section 14 of the Political Parties Act 2011, Section 22 of the Elections Act 2011 and Section 23 (2) of the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act 2011 by the Members of Parliament were enacted with a measure of self-bias and self-interest in the run-up to the forth coming general elections,” she said.

Chesoni who is the former Vice-chair of the Committee of Experts which was mandated to come up with the current Constitution, cited the amendments as unconstitutional.

“The amendments tabled through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 2012 have provisions that have the effect of negating the very constitutional principles upon which they were enacted,” she explained.

International Commission of Jurists Executive Director George Kegoro urged the President to take the petition with urgency and also pleaded with the Speaker to not proceed with motions that would breach the new constitution.

“This petition should be dealt with immediately in view of the urgency of this matter. The Speaker of the House should invoke his mandate and duty to restrain the House form debating proposals that have the potential of breaching or in any way undermining the Constitution,” Kegoro said.

He added that the House should proceed to debate and urgently enact the Bill related to the enforcement of Chapter Six of the Constitution precisely on Leadership and Integrity.

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They join the numerous Civil Society Organisations that have called on the President not to assent to the Statute Law, (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill that sailed through Parliament last Thursday.

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