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The Senate during a past session. /CFM-FILE.

Corona Virus

Senators to vote on proposed standing orders review to allow virtual sittings

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – Senators are Tuesday set to deliberate and vote on a recommendation by a House Committee seeking to allow the Senate to hold virtual sittings for the first time in the legislature’s history.

The move comes a month after the Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka tasked the House Rules and Procedures Committee to review the Standing Orders as a result of dynamics brought about by COVID-19 Pandemic.

The review coincides with Parliament efforts to identify an alternative venue that can accommodate all the 67 Senators.

“The option of finding a larger venue that can accommodate all Senators without the need for designation of only some Senators to attend the Plenary continues to be pursued and, if adopted, the need for these innovations and adjustments may cease,” Senate Speaker Lusaka recently ruled while referencing the matter.

In his communication Lusaka noted that a hybrid arrangement will see 29 MPs participate in proceedings using video conference service Zoom, while up to 28 remain in the Chamber under physical distancing rules.

Lusaka said the Senate was looking for the other online measures similar to those applied by the European Union and the House of Congress to allow members to make deliberations through email.

”In jurisdictions where virtual sittings have been adopted, for instance, new meaning has been given to the term “present”. For instance, for the first time in the EU Parliament’s sixty-two year history, in the month of March, Members who usually vote by raising their hands in plenary or by pushing a button on their desks, voted by email from their home countries. We are no exception,” the Senate Speaker stated.

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