NAKURU, Kenya, May 12 – Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi has defended his proposal to scrap 47 positions of county Woman Representatives and be replaced with 100 slots to be created by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
Muturi had last week said that for the two-thirds gender rule to be realised, Articles 97(b) and 97(c) of the Constitution should be amended to abolish the provision for Nominated MPs.
The Speaker who has evoked criticism from CORD Leader Raila Odinga, women parliamentarians and women lobby groups said that the remarks he made while on official duty in South Africa should be treated as his personal opinion.
“As Kenyans we have to understand that we all have the freedom of expression. We should be ready to tolerate each other’s views so long as it does not harm us. We cannot be criticising each every day, we must allow Kenyans to talk,” he said.
Muturi said the Constitution guarantees the freedom of expression and the right to opinion.
“We don’t want a situation where people keep insulting each other whenever they hold different opinions. We are encouraging people to express their opinion but in a decorous way. There must be respect among citizens even as we express freely our rights and opinions as we express me,” the Speaker stated.
Odinga and women parliamentarians criticised the Speaker saying that his sentiments had gone against parliamentary practice requiring the House Speaker to remain impartial to any matter before the House while civil society groups said the Speaker should excuse himself from presiding over debate when it is called to order.
“The Speaker is yet to consult us. He should therefore not preside over the debate on the floor of the House. Much as he has his own opinion, he should be careful on this one. The seats are here to stay,” Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire said.