, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 6 – Attorney General Githu Muigai has defended the Executive against claims that they it was fully cognisant of the content of the Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill, 2013 as passed by Parliament – including the controversial clauses.
Muigai said that contrary to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s assertions, the Executive – himself included as the legal advisor – had no way of knowing what the final law would look like once it was handed over to Parliament.
“What you need to understand is this, the Executive under the new constitution does not sit in the National Assembly, so when we submit the bill the assembly has two opportunities to alter it, one is in the committee stage, the other one is on the floor of the House,” he explained.
And while admitting that he was now in possession of the bill, in its current state, he guarded against taking a public stand on it.
“We and the Minister (ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i) are looking at it (and) we are far from advising the President either one way or the other. We are consulting,” he said.
It’s worth noting however that once the President is in possession of the bill, he has only 14 days to either sign it into law or return it to Parliament for amendment.
But while the Attorney General may play shy with his legal opinion, President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured the Fourth Estate that he will not sign the bill into law until the portions that have raised a furore are examined.
“I shall look at the Bill once it is forwarded to me with a view to identifying and addressing possible grey areas to ensure the new media law conforms to the Constitution,” the Head of State said just two days after Parliament passed the bill.
Odinga has however questioned the Jubilee government’s sincerity given they form the majority in Parliament.
“Those asking President Uhuru Kenyatta not to sign the Bill into law equally miss the point. The fact is that the President cleared this Bill in the form in which it was passed. We can only ask him to have a change of heart and refuse to sign it because it is bad for the country and goes against the Constitution,” he argued.