NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 – Tempers flared in the National Assembly Thursday, as MPs debated the controversial Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014, which now awaits the third reading, where amendments are expected to be tabled.
Most lawmakers from the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) were opposed to the bill, while their counterparts from the ruling coalition backed the proposed law.
“Mr Speaker those children who are crying because they have lost their parents… and here you are telling us stories; shame on anyone who is seeking to play around with the lives of Kenyans,” said an emotional Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi).
“I agree with colleagues who have implored bi-partisanship. Security is not a Jubilee or CORD affair; it is a collective responsibility of all of us as leaders. The problem is not the law, the problem is the challenge of enforcement and corruption that has eaten deep into the structures of security in this country. This law is a bad law, whichever angle you look at it,” said Ababu Namwamba (Bundalangi’).
“It is true that security in our country has reached extraordinary propositions and we need extraordinary responses but there should be no room for overreaction; overreaction turns cooperators into rebels and co-conspirators of criminals as in the case of Mombasa, Eastleigh and Kapedo. It would be wrong for anyone to assert that this bill is the answer to the security problem in the country, the problem is much bigger,” said Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda).
Further divisions characterised voting, and at one point a scuffle ensued after Nyando Member of Parliament Fred Outa attempted to grab the mace.
It took the efforts of the Speaker to calm down the members who had been agitated by the fact that the ayes and nays had a similar outcome when the time to vote came.
Eventually a second vote was carried out with the ayes garnering 93 votes and nays with 45.
Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale urged legislators to maintain calm and await the committee stage, where they can present amendments as opposed to condemning the entire law yet there were some very useful proposals.
“We must look at this bill with soberness, and look at the bill and say the following areas are okay… the following areas we need to re-look at. And as a house, with the interest of the country; with the interest of the security challenges that we have, I have no doubt in my mind that we will come together to a table at the end of the day we will have a law that will make a difference,” stated Duale.
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa broke ranks with his Opposition colleagues by supporting the proposed law, saying it would sanitise the security sector which lately has been under attack.
A number of MPs claimed that some of the proposals were targeted at them, refereeing to the proposals on picketing and the fact that for one to hold a public meeting, permission had to be sought.
As it stands, the National Assembly is adjourned until February 10, 2015, but it is expected that the Speaker will call for a special sitting for members to discuss the report of the Committee on Appointments on the vetting of the nominee to the Interior Ministry docket, Joseph Nkaissery.
It is also expected that the house will finalise debate on the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014.