, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 1 – A Bill that allows Members of Parliament an extra two weeks to switch parties has already been assented to by the president.
Miscellaneous (Amendment) Bill 2012 was signed into law by President Mwai Kibaki on Monday along with several other laws.
The alteration to allow MPs more time to switch parties was made to give legitimacy to Parliament beyond January 4, 2013 which was the initial deadline.
If the deadline stood, it would have meant that Parliament would not have been legitimately constituted, due to the number of lawmakers who would have been deemed to have lost their seats after switching parties.
MPs are still required to pass crucial bills beyond January 4, which include crucial laws on devolution.
The extension was the second that MPs made for them to move from parties that sponsored them to Parliament.
The first time was on October 17, but they moved it to January 4. They now have 15 extra days after that deadline.
Last week, the civil society lobbied to have the president reject the amendment, arguing it watered down electoral laws put in place to instil discipline in political parties.
The International Centre for Policy and Conflict asserted that it was wrong for MPs to take advantage of the transition to pass laws to suit their personal interests.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee counterpart Eldoret North MP William Ruto became the first MPs to officially decamp from their parties to become members of new outfits.
Ruto informed the Registrar of Political Parties that he had left the Orange Democratic Movement for the United Republican Party whereas Kenyatta left KANU to join The National Alliance (TNA) party.
Ruto said he would quit as MP for Eldoret North after consulting his constituents, while Kenyatta announced he would declare his next move in due course.
Ideally, an MP who ditches the party that sponsored him to Parliament is supposed to quit and seek re-election.
Other laws that the President assented to on Monday are the Political Parties Amendment Bill, 2012.
Also signed into law were The Human Resource Management Professional Bill 2012; The Office of the Attorney-General Bill 2012; The Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons and affected Communities Bill 2012, The Micro and Small Enterprises Bill 2012, The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service Bill 2012, and The Seeds and Plant Varieties (Amendment) Bill 2012.