NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 24 – The National Assembly is Tuesday scheduled to convene an informal meeting otherwise referred to as a ‘Speaker’s Kamukunji’ to rally support for the proposed extension of the deadline to pass constitutional bills and at the same time also set the period of extension, whether six, nine or 12months.
During the meeting, Leader of Majority Aden Duale will also be lobbying fellow members of Parliament to support the extension when it comes to the floor to ensure he gathers the two-thirds threshold required to pass the motion.
For the motion to sail through, 233 members will be required to vote in its favor failure to which the motion is defeated and any willing Kenyan may petition the High Court over the matter. In determining the matter, the High court may according Article 261(6) of the Constitution make declaratory orders and set a period for which the law may be passed.
If this is not met, the Chief Justice after receiving a proper brief may then advice the president to initiate the dissolution of parliament (Senate and National Assembly).
Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi has urged all members of Parliament to refrain from travelling outside the country and ensure they attend the Kamkunji and also the sitting to ensure the required threshold is met.
In the Senate on the other hand leader of majority Kithure Kindiki says an extension of one year would be adequate to ensure the Bills passed are of good quality saying the proposed extension was not something out of the ordinary.
“The extension is being hyped and dramatized for no good reason because the drafters of the constitution even anticipated the extension — I really hope that the National Assembly will be able to raise the numbers to pass the Motion for extending time. I think we should extend for one year because the world is not coming to an end,” the majority leader added.
He said the fact that the Constitution required that all Bills undergo public participation also meant that even if they had the will power to pass the Bills before the August 27 deadline it was impossible to ensure the processes which a Bill has to undergo were met.
“We in the Senate though we could have a special sitting but we realized we don’t even have all the Bills. I have received nine Bills (from Senate), my brother Aden Duale has received about 15 Bills, there are about three others that are yet to be finalized,” he said.
Kindiki added that they were avoiding mistakes made by the 10th parliament that hurriedly passed several Bills most of which were mediocre and were now being rectified stating that, “you cannot ‘straight jacket’ legislation, it is a political process — sometimes you are forced to withdraw a law or even forced to halt the process to seek political consensus.”
“Most of those Bills were faulty and have grave errors…we have been forced to comb through them and bring amendments. We need to do quality legislation,” he added.
He absolved Parliament from blame over the delay saying the Bills had come in late some owing to their sensitive nature.
“We have received all those Bills in the last three weeks, there was huge delay in the part of the Executive to generate the Bills, however even for the executive, the situation was not easy as almost all those the Bills are emotive if not controversial, if not divisive Bills.”
He cited Bills as the Historical injustices Bill, Community Land Bill, agreements on natural resources Bill, and minimum and maximum acreage Bills as among those expected to elicit emotions and debate as they shouldered most of the issues that have divided Kenyans over the years, some that even the Truth Justice and reconciliation commission (TJRC) failed to resolve.
He further defended the Executive over the delay in submitting the Bills saying time was lost as the Executive attempted to build consensus within itself and among other stakeholders to ensure the concerns were accommodated.
“If we had got these Bills earlier we would have processed most if not all the Bills by now, so I think it would be inappropriate to blame either the National Assembly or the Senate.
He said the Senate would be watching the process keenly since the repercussions of the failure to meet the deadline affected both houses.
The motion will be moved by Constitutional Implementation and Oversight committee chairman Njoroge Baiya.