Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: MPs Reject Bid to Rush Through Election Laws

Members of Parliament on Thursday disagreed on a proposal by the State to waive the committee stage for consideration of Bills proposing amendments to the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill and Elections (Amendment) Bill which relate to the next general election.

The executive had proposed to fast tracking of important Bills with political implications by reducing the period required to process them.

"I wish to ask the House that we do this because knowing the time we have is limited between now and the time we go and if we go through the normal process we will not be able to dispose of this Bills and certainly because it has a bearing on the elections we must dispose of them as soon as we can."

MPs Isaac Ruto, Rachael Shebesh and Ekwe Ethuro questioned why the Executive was rushing the process.

Ruto claimed that the move by Deputy Leader of Government Business Amos Kimunya will deny the public an opportunity to scrutinise the proposed amendment to the two electoral laws.

The public and stakeholders have a chance to contribute to a Bills when it is referred to the relevant departmental parliamentary committees for scrutiny before they are taken back to Parliament for the Third and final stage.

Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto and Nominated MP Rachael Shebesh said the move was suspicious.

"You have only a month to go (before the House term ends) and you are reneging on every principle that we committed ourselves to in the constitution which includes others participating and getting to know what we are about to pass in this House." said Ruto.

The MP said the government should spare some of the Bills that are not urgent for the next Parliament for proper handling rather than rushing them.

"This will be a serious disservice to Kenyans where the government wants to bring in many Bills when no one is watching," he said.

Shebesh added: "we have rejected committee reports here, (something I have never been comfortable with) because we have already started debate on that particular issue on the public discourse and we have already set the mood."

Ruto opposed an amendment proposed by government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem MP) saying it will negate gains made in political reforms.

Midiwo's amendment to the Elections Act to remove a restriction that candidates can only be nominated by registered members of a political party, is awaiting consideration in Parliament.

The afternoon session ended two hours before the official time. After Ruto alerted the Temporary Speaker Ekwe Ethuro of a lack of quorum, citing there was only 11 MPs in the House.

The MPs had earlier approved the motion to reduce the publication period of the Election Campaign Financing Bill which deals with monitoring and regulation of campaign financing. The Bill deals with campaign expenses and provides for a candidate, a political party and a referendum committee to disclose the amount and source of contributions received for campaign.

MPs agreed to have the publication period reduced from 14 to six days.

The Bill requires each political party to submit its campaign expenditure rules to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and provides for the establishment of expenditure committees to regulate spending during campaigns.

Under the Bill, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is required to set the spending limits for campaigns, at least three months before an election.

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