NAIROBI, Kenya, August 15 – The Gender and Equality Commission has voiced support for the Constitution Amendment Bill tabled by National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale which seeks to enforce the two-thirds gender rule principle in elective posts.
In a statement the Commission says MPs should pass the Bill in order to avoid a constitutional crisis after 2017 election if one gender exceeds the two gender limit.
The Majority Leader tabled the new constitutional amendment in the House last month as he signalled that the National Assembly would be seeking an extension of the August 27 deadline for the two-thirds gender rule implementation.
The Commission says the constitutional amendment is direct and least intrusive to the content of the Constitution and will guarantee realization of the principle at all times.
GEC further refuted claims that the amendment will have to be subjected to a referendum saying it only requires support of two-thirds majority because it has brought through parliamentary initiative.
The law seeks to ensure the number of special seats shall be determined after the declaration of the number of members elected to ensure not more than two-thirds of the National Assembly and Senate membership is of either gender after the General Election.
It will ensure the membership in the bicameral system of Parliament conforms to the gender principle set out in law. “Article 81 (b) of the Constitution provides that the electoral system shall comply with Article 27(8), stating that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender,” reads the Duale Bill.
For county governments, the requirement is ingrained in Article 175, 177, 197 of the Constitution, but the county assemblies have already implemented the principle.
The Duale’s Bill seeks to have additional women in leadership if the election does not meet the threshold. The proposed law will lapse 20 years after the date of the second General Election held under the Constitution.
The effect of this is that if after an election the number of women or men does not meet the constitutional threshold, the gap will be bridged by picking additional women or men as per party lists. Political parties will submit a list of members to be nominated.
The laws that are targeted for review are the Elections Act, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, the Political Parties Act, the County Governments Act and the National Gender and Equality Commission Act in order to compel parties, the electoral commission and county governments to consider interests of special interest groups.
The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2015 proposed by Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga has been met with criticism from feminist and civil society because it provides for the amendment of Article 81 (b) of the Constitution so that the gender principle is achieved progressively, setting aside the five-year deadline.