NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 5 – Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro has directed the Senate Legal Affairs Committee to submit its report on the contentious Elections (Amendment) Bill by 2.30pm Thursday.
Ethuro gave the directive after Opposition MPs led by Minority Leader Moses Wetangula (Bungoma) called for temporary adjournment of debate on the Bill to allow the committee table its recommendations in the House.
“I would want us to have an opportunity to deal with both the Bill and the report as brought by the committee; so that it makes things more orderly and can help the House arrive at whatever decision we may want to have, Mr Speaker,” Wetangula suggested.
“I have sought from the committee, so that they can finalise, so that before we finish this particular session that report can be tabled so that by the time you go for lunch you can read through it and when we get to Third Reading you can be able to comment,” Speaker ruled.
Senators James Orengo (Siaya), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi) and George Khaniri (Vihiga) supported the call to adjourn debate saying it will allow them make informed contributions on the Amendment Bill.
“In order to continue to generate this spirit of consensus and agreement, I think it would good to allow us to wait and look at the report,” Orengo said.
“This is like sharpening a knife in front of a bull, and then trying to take it to the slaughter house. It is clear that bull will resist your efforts. Similarly I would like to point out that we are being tricked, which we are vehemently rejecting,” Justice (Rtd) Madzayo stated.
“We should really concentrate on ensuring that the debate in Second Reading is substantial given the input of the committee and which has taken its time to make proposals to this House,” Nyong’o said.
Deputy Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo-Marakwet) and Senators Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) and Martha Wangari (Nominated) urged the Speaker to allow debate to proceed to enable legislators register their views on the Bill that was passed by the National Assembly.
“What is relevant and important, – and that is why we agreed that the Committee should work fast – is for public views to be received but also we have as Senators our personal views and suggestions that need to incorporated at the committee stage,” Murkomen said.
“Irrespective of whatever the committee may came and say in their report, they cannot and they do not have the mandate to think on behalf or to decide on behalf of members,” Wamatangi stated.
Speaker Ethuro last week directed the committee to hold public hearings following outcry by members of the Opposition and the public who accused the Jubilee Administration of arbitrarily reinstating manual voter identification and transmission of election results in cases where technology fails.