Capital FM (Nairobi)

21 June 2012

Kenya: MPs 'Mischief' Infuriates Civil Society

Nairobi — Civil Society Organisations have called on President Mwai Kibaki not to assent to the Statute Law, (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill that sailed through Parliament on Thursday.

Under the banner of Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, the organisations argued that the Bill which seeks to amend key provisions of the Elections Act was an attempt to defraud Kenyans.

The Bill proposes that an unsuccessful presidential candidate can still make way to Parliament through nomination by political parties.

FIDA Kenya Executive Director Grace Maingi- Kimani said Parliament had no constitutional authority to bestow advantages to itself.

She quoted Section 34 of the Elections Act which reads: "the nomination party lists to be submitted to IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) before the elections may not contain the name of any presidential or deputy presidential candidate nominated under the Act."

"The original Bill worked on by the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution had used the stronger term "Shall not" but that was watered down by MP's to "May not"," she complained.

Kimani noted that party lists were meant to entrench affirmative action for the persons with disabilities, women, youth and marginalised communities in the national and county assemblies as well as the Senate but the proposal by Parliament gravely undermined these principles.

Transparency International Executive Director Samuel Kimeu saw the amendments as mischievous.

"The drive to amend the Political Parties Act to give party leaders rejected by the people at the ballot a chance is a manifestation of narrow self interests of politicians and at best perpetuation of impunity," he said while Harun Ndumbi of Haki Focus said it was unacceptable to mutilate the Constitution in such a manner.

"In just under two years since the Constitution was passed, it has started to be mutilated to the extent that it is now not possible to recognise the spirit of the Constitution. The Speaker ought to be more alert to unconstitutional debates and stop them when they arise," Ndumbi stated.

Separately, the National Civil Society Congress Secretary General Ndolo Asasa termed the changes as unconstitutional and self-serving.

"The amendments to the Elections Act through Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2012 are unconstitutional, unacceptable and heinous and a shameless bid by the MPs at self preservation," he said.

Country Coordinator Suba Churchill said that they would take stringent measures if the President assented to the bill.

"We shall call on Kenyans to resist these changes through mass actions and also going to the court," Suba said.

Parliament has approved changes to the Political Parties Act which allows MPs and councillors to defect from their political parties and still retain their seats.

During the Parliamentary session Budalang'i MP Ababu Namwamba read to the House a letter from the Chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution Charles Nyachae to the House Speaker Kenneth Marende enlightening him that the commission would move to court to block the amendments which he argued were unconstitutional.

But Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed dismissed Nyachae's bid saying it was not the responsibility of CIC to supervise Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Elections Observation Group has emphasised the need for all Members of Parliament to have high academic qualifications which include a University degree.

Institute for Education in Democracy Executive Director Peter Alingo said this would also ensure that the legislative arm of the government was at par with both the Judiciary and the Public service.

"They were proposing to even reduce it further so that basic minimum KCSE certification is what is required for purposes of processing leadership. We would like to see leadership that has gone through university education," he emphasised.

Earlier on Thursday, legislators cushioned themselves from a requirement to posses a university degree before contesting any post in the next General Election.

The MPs however reversed an earlier amendment which had sought to totally remove the degree certificate as a prerequisite for candidates seeking elective posts in Parliament and County assemblies.

The legislators had on Wednesday night adopted the proposal by Bura MP Abdi Nuh which only said a candidate for MP or County assembly member should posses a post-secondary education certificate.

During a special sitting on Thursday morning, Parliament however deleted Nuh's clause but retained one insulating them from the degree rule for the next election.

The amendment in effect means that anybody who is not a current MP wishing to become President, running mate, MP, Senator, Governor and Deputy Governor must have a degree to vie for next elections.

SIMON NDONGA also contributed to this report

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