12 September 2012

Kenya: Bill to Bar Drinking On Voting Day Now Tabled

Photo: John Fraser/IPS
Parliament has approved the pre-poll alcohol Bill.

A Bill seeking to outlaw consumption of liquor two days to the voting day has finally been introduced in Parliament. The Alcoholic Drinks (amendment) Bill, 2012 was introduced yesterday for the first reading. This means than MPs will soon start its debate and possible adoption.

If enacted into law, no one will be allowed to sell any alcoholic drink two days to the general election. The same will apply to an area where a by-election is being held. This means that no bar will be opened from March 2, 2013. Bar owners will only resume their business after Kenyans cast their votes on March 4.

Anyone who will violate the provisions for a first offence will face a fine not exceeding Sh50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 9 months or to both. For a second or subsequent offence, the person will be fined an amount not exceeding Sh100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.

"Unless if the license issued under this Act permits, no person shall sell an alcoholic drink during the period of two days prior to the date of any general election or in areas subject to a by-election as provided for under the Constitution," reads section 32 (2) of the Bill. The Bill seeks to amend the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2010.

Naivasha MP John Mututho, who is the architect of the Bill, has said it is aimed at ensuring people vote without being under any influence. He has also argued that some candidates buy supporters of their opponents beer during the elections so that they sleep and are unable to cast votes.Other proposals include compelling manufactures to display on every package containing an alcoholic drink a sign that excessive drinking can cause liver cirrhosis.

The Bill also proposes the packaging to carry a message that excessive alcohol consumption impairs ones judgment and one should not drive or operate machinery while drunk.It will also bar manufacturers from having alcohol advertisements on TV and radio stations between 6 am and 10 pm. The use of sports or entertainment personalities to advertise alcoholic drinks will also be prohibited.

Also to be outlawed is painting or decorating a residential building with the name of the alcoholic drink or manufacturers' colours, images or logo. The Bill also has proposed that all alcoholic beverages are registered with the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse. The Bill has been sponsored by Mututho, the architect of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2010.

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