NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28 – An ad-hoc Select Committee set-up by the National Assembly on Thursday has until October 10 to submit a report on two Bills seeking to make changes to key election related legislation.
Majority Leader Aden Duale says the committee to be chaired by Baringo North MP William Cheptumo will be expected to hold public sittings to get views on the Election Offences (Amendment) Bill and the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill.
Duale said his amendments are not targeted at weakening the mandate of the Supreme Court to handle a presidential petition but are meant to seal loopholes that led to the nullification of Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the August 8 General Election.
“What this Bill is trying to do is one, rise to the occasion to the judgment given by the Supreme Court, both by the majority and the minority, that Parliament must make changes to the laws used to govern the elections,” he said.
“This Bill is saying, let us have the two systems, the manual system and the electronic transmission, to move concurrently. That the chairman must have the Forms 34A and Form 34B before he announces the winner.”
He said the Bills are only attempting to ‘clean-up the law’ in line which was left without clarity following the decision of the Court of Appeal in the Maina Kiai case.
“There is nothing mischievous and do not bring something that is not in this Bill,” he cautioned.
This comes after the MPs approved a Motion to shorten the period need to publicise the Bills from 14 days to one day.
Among the changes captured in the amendments include making the manual tallying and transmission of results superior to the electronic system.
The amendments also seek to enhance the punishment of Presiding and Returning Officers who fail to sign or complete the forms or who knowingly submit an incomplete document.
Deputy Minority Whip Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini) alleged the minority had every reason to be suspicious in the manner the Bills are fast-tracked in the House.
He cited recent pronouncements by President Kenyatta which seem to threaten the independence of the Judiciary.
Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala on his part urged his colleagues in Jubilee Party to enact laws that will serve the country for posterity.
“I came here in 1998, Mr Speaker and the person I removed was a Cabinet Minister and they had passed an amendment through the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) process; where they provided that a person challenging the election of an MP would have 28 days to serve him with petition papers. But what used to happen is that once they would be declared winners, they would go to Dubai for 28 days, so when I beat him; I also went to Dubai and Mr Speaker I won that petition,” he said.
Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo cautioned against rushing the amendments noting that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will only conduct the fresh presidential election in line with the Constitution.
“If you change the law, the IEBC will then be at a cross-road; does it follow the Supreme Court in term of its judgment or does it follow the National Assembly in terms of hurriedly changed laws,” he pondered.
Suna East MP Junet Mohamed signalled NASA’s defiance by stating that it will not be submitting any representative to the house committees until after the fresh presidential election is conducted.
“This is a matter that is important to every Kenyan, to be handled in the casual manner that the Majority Leader would like to us to, Mr Speaker, this like changing the rules in the middle of the game,” said the Suna East MP.
Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch questioned the legality of bring the law yet there was no substantive Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in place.
The two Bills were formally introduced in the National Assembly during a special sitting held on Thursday morning.