Women MPs skip sitting as quorum hitch hits gender Bill again

November 16, 2016 5:37 pm
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House Speaker Justin Muturi said he could not put the matter to the vote because there were less than 233 MPs or two thirds majority present in the House required for voting on a Bill seeking to amend the Constitution/FILE
House Speaker Justin Muturi said he could not put the matter to the vote because there were less than 233 MPs or two thirds majority present in the House required for voting on a Bill seeking to amend the Constitution/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 16 – The National Assembly has once again failed to raise quorum to vote on a constitutional amendment seeking implementation of the two-thirds gender rule in the House as provided in the Constitution.

House Speaker Justin Muturi said he could not put the matter to the vote because there were less than 233 MPs or two thirds majority present in the House required for voting on a Bill seeking to amend the Constitution.

“Even that other Parliament, which will be the Twelfth Parliament, will have exactly five years within which to struggle like Honourable Samuel Chepkonga has; to try and pass (the legislation) and after that, then the matter rests. Whether they pass or they do not pass it’s no longer a consequence,” he said.

“I believe we have done our best – even the Senate is trying, they have a similar law – So we should not get tired. Honourable Chepkonga, just keep trying and what you need to do is make sure that you have no less than 233 MPs before I can put the question.”

The proposed law seeks to implement Article 81 of the Constitution that requires that not more than two thirds of either gender is represented at both the Senate and National Assembly.

While summarising debate on the constitutional amendment, Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Chepkonga urged lawmakers especially the Women MPs to support the Bill which pushes for progressive realisation of the gender rule.

He cautioned them that a petition pending before the Milimani High Court seeking the dissolution of the House should not be taken lightly.

“And so I wish to table this petition, so that members know if they are planning for their salary, they should also be planning to not have a salary for the next while, including the Women Members of Parliament, it is not going to only affect the men. The Women MPs will also not have their salaries,” argued the Ainabkoi MP.

“This is a middle-ground, this is the only way we can preserve the sanctity of this House. Mr Speaker, we may be so annoyed, we may be so upset, Mr Speaker, but you know we must engage in realistic thinking, Mr Speaker.”

Wilbert Choge moved to court in September seeking orders to dissolve Parliament over failure to pass the gender bill.

The Eldoret resident argues the MPs were a stumbling block to the implementation of the gender rule as enshrined in the 2010 Constitution.

The Supreme Court last year directed the National Assembly to pass the Bill in compliance with the Constitution.

The House failed to meet last year’s August deadline for enactment of the law, which would place more women in leadership through affirmative action.

The House had on two occasions earlier this year failed to raise the quorum required to approve a government sponsored Bill which proposed the proportionate allocation of special seats to the number of seats won by a political party after elections.

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