MPs approve contentious amendment on Election Laws

December 22, 2016 11:13 am
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The ammendment was passed despite protests by the Opposition. Photo/FILE.
NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 22 – The National Assembly has approved a contentious amendment which provides for a manual back-up system for the voting, transmission and tallying of election results which was strongly opposed by the Opposition.

The amendment sponsored by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Samuel Chepkonga was passed during the Special Morning Sitting convened after a similar one was disrupted on Tuesday.

Chepkonga had proposed that the IEBC finds an alternative mechanism for identification and transmission of election results in the event of technological failure.

Opposition Members of Parliament stormed out of the proceedings accusing their Jubilee counterparts led by Majority Leader Aden Duale of bulldozing the change to the motion.

Parliament passed amendments to provide for “complementary” transmission of results and identification of voters if technology fails, after Majority Leader Aden Duale proposed to include manual transmission.

“The amendment has passed and CORD leader Raila Odinga should know that we must have elections next year,” Duale told journalists after the amendment was passed, “Let Raila Odinga know that his threats won’t work because we have no law in Kenya saying that there can be no elections unless Raila is on the ballot.”

Businessman Dr Chris Kirubi has lauded Parliament for amending the electoral laws to allow for a manual back-up system for the voting.

“I am proud that parliament has passed a law that will allow people to vote even in those areas that will have no network for them to use technology. We have seen in some countries like America where numbers were managed by how much technology was used. Technology is not everything, technology can be hacked,” Kirubi who is also the Chairman of Brand Kenya said, “And we believe there were schemes to hack some of our areas to make sure that people do not vote. Well done legislators for making sure we do not fall in the same trap of believing in technology that can be manipulated from many miles away in the world.”

The Thursday Sitting also passed an amendment to the Elections Campaign Finance Regulations that will allow candidates in the 2017 elections two months to submit a list of their campaign finance management committees instead of eight months.

But Gem MP and Minority Deputy Leader Jakoyo Midiwo insist they will challenge it in court.

“The Speaker has abused his powers because he is only allowed to call a special sitting when something is urgent and related to a state of emergency, appointment to commissioners and impeachment of a president, his deputy or declaring war yet none of these are before us,” he said.

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed too protested at the passing of the amendment, saying “How do you have a thriving multibillion mobile money sector, file our tax returns online, have a Sh150 billion fully-online gambling industry, and then you want to tell us that a 12-hour election once every five years cannot be done electronically.”

MPs also approved an amendment by Duale setting a degree as the minimum academic requirement for a candidate vying to be a member of the County Assembly to have, but said the provision will come into effect by 2022.

Chepkonga sponsored other amendments including one to the Elections Campaign Finance Regulations that will allow candidates in the 2017 elections two months to submit a list of their campaign finance management committees instead of eight months.

The MPs also approved an amendment that all independent candidates submit names and photos they intend to use in the elections just like those who will be vying under different parties.

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