NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale to prioritise the passage of legislation to implement the constitutional two-thirds gender rule when Parliament resumes from its recess on May 9.
According to sources inside State House the renewed push is attributed to the fact that the ‘Presidency feels that it had better go into an election with an option, which can be improved upon, rather than go into elections with nothing.’
The directive confounds the plea the President made on Thursday while speaking at a requiem mass held in honour of his late sister Margaret Wambui at St Andrews Church, where he urged Parliament to re-introduce debate on two thirds gender provision.
“In solidarity with the women of this country, my suggestion is that today especially those of us who have an opportunity and the ability… I think we have a responsibility to work together and ensure that we pass the two thirds gender rule so that women can take their rightful place in our society,” he said as he eulogised he former Nairobi mayor as a strong woman.
Duale and legal experts are now said to be eyeing the option of narrowing down of the Constitutional Amendment Bill sponsored by Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi) which is already in the debating stage in the National Assembly.
Chepkonga Bill has however received opposition from women legislators because it seeks the progressive implementation of the gender rule while the women MPs and other groups want a definite formula that will guide the implementation of the principle.
The Ainabkoi MP on his part has maintained that gender balance cannot be achieved overnight and citing that even the Supreme Court in its 2013 ruling allowed for gradual implementation of the gender rule.
Women legislators say they will not relent in the struggle to implement a legal requirement allowing the nomination of more women to the Senate and National Assembly to meet the constitutional two-thirds gender representation threshold.
This comes after MPs in May last year failed in their second attempt to pass the Gender Rule Bill sponsored by Duale after only 178 out of the 199 MPs present in the House supported it. Another 13 MPs opposed the Bill while five lawmakers abstained from the fresh vote.
The Bill sought to top up the number of women in Parliament should the General Election fail to meet the constitutional threshold.
The Duale Bill further provides for the achievement of the gender principle in Parliament within 20 years from the 2017 polls
The Sitting which was earlier marked by drama after around 20 MPs walked out of the Chamber even as Speaker Justin Muturi ordered for the Quorum Bell to be rung to signal MPs who were within the precincts of the Parliament that their presence was required in the House.
The MPs walked out chanting ‘hiyo kitu tumeikataa, hiyo tumeikataa.’ (We don’t want that Bill, We don’t want that Bill).
Some MPs from both coalitions were heard saying that they would deny the House the two-thirds or 233 MPs requirement to pass a constitutional amendment Bill.