NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 14 – The National Assembly resumes its sittings on Tuesday after a two-week recess amid pressing national issues that deal with the preparation for next year’s General Election such as changes proposed in the Electoral (Amendment) Laws.
When the MPs meet, they will be expected to debate, scrutinise and vote on at least 40 amendments which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) wants enacted in the current Elections Act to enable free, fair and credible election in 2017.
MPs have differed with the polls agency over a provision to have public officials who want to contest in a General Election to resign six months before. MPs want this period stretched to one year.
With the General Election slated for August 8, 2017, it means such public officers should resign from office in March but if the MPs have their way, then the public officials will have to leave office immediately the Bill becomes law.
The IEBC defended the six-month proposal saying it is informed by the principle of fairness.
Another sticky matter between the IEBC and the lawmakers is the question of punishing candidates who are found guilty of committing electoral offences.
The amendments which are being handled by the Justice and Legal Committee say the IEBC can bar a candidate from contesting a poll once an elections court has concluded hearings of election offences to send a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions for investigations and prosecutions.
But MPs have a counter proposal which states that a candidate can only be barred once he or she has been convicted of the offence.
The House is also expected to conclude debate on the constitutional amendment bill seeking to provide a progressive formula for the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule in the House as provided in the Constitution.
During the debate women MPs vowed to block its passage by all means possible because they felt, the Bill seeks to postpone the implementation of the deadline of realising the gender rule which expired on August 27.
Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Samuel Chepkonga refused to bow to pressure and withdraw his Bill arguing that the debate on the Bill which is currently in Second Reading in the National Assembly will continue with the option of incorporating proposals from stakeholders into the Bill.
The Supreme Court ruled that Parliament should come up with a Bill to implement the affirmative action rule. This prompted Chepkonga to table the Bill.
The Clause 8(1)(b) of the Bill provides for the progressive implementation of legislation to ensure not more than two-thirds gender principle.