10 October 2017

Kenya: Nasa MPs, Senators Skip Election Laws Debate

Photo: Jeff Angote/Daily Nation
ODM chairperson John Mbadi (centre) addresses journalists after a Nasa parliamentary group meeting on October 10, 2017.

National Super Alliance (Nasa) members will not attend sittings to debate proposed controversial changes to the election laws in the National Assembly and the Senate.

The legislators have also reiterated that their leader, Mr Raila Odinga will not take part in the planned October 26 fresh presidential election.

The decision was made Wednesday during the Nasa parliamentary group meeting at County Hall.

The move comes as the two Houses prepare to simultaneously debate the report of the on two bills targeting the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, Elections Act and the Election Offenses Act ahead of the October 26 election.

WITHDRAW

The two committees of the National Assembly and Senate co-chaired by Baringo North MP Mr William Cheptumo and Ms Fatuma Dullo held joint sittings last week to take views of the public regarding the views.

Leader of Minority in the National Assembly John Mbadi (Suba South) said the move to withdraw Nasa MPs is to avoid giving legitimacy to a "flawed process."

"Having looked at the two bills, we are convinced that they are dangerous bills. The bills are unconstitutional and flawed based on the content and the process involved," Mr Mbadi said.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said nowhere in the bicameral system has one bill been tabled and debated simultaneously in the two Houses of Parliament.

"We are not going to participate in an election where jubilee is busy shifting the goals posts. We want to tell jubilee we will not allow this to happen," Mr Kilonzo Jnr said.

The changes seek to remove the requirement that the IEBC chairman must be a lawyer.

CHAIRMAN

It instead proposes the IEBC chairman to be a person with more than 15 years of experience not just in law but any other relevant field.

The changes also provide that the vice-chairman to automatically become the head of the commission in the absence of the chairman and therefore declare presidential results.

If both the chairman and the vice-chairman are absent, the commissioners present can elect one of themselves to act as chairman.

They also seek to have concurrent electronic and manual transmission of tabulated results from polling stations to the constituency and national tallying centre, publish the result forms in a public portal in the management of the presidential election.

Nasa MPs have also faulted the proposal that manual process takes precedence in the event of a discrepancy between the manual and electronically transmitted results.

Mr Mbadi noted that the move will take the country back to the past when elections were rigged with ease.

FORMS

The bill also notes that failure to transmit the results electronically shall not be used to invalidate the result, requires the commission to develop a complementary system and that the commission to announce the result only when it has all the forms.

If adopted by the two Houses and assented to by the president, presidential result forms cannot be declared void if they are not in line with the prescribed format as long as the deviation is not designed to mislead.

The petitioner will be required to prove there were irregularities in the conduct of an election and how those irregularities affected the final result.

The Election Offenses Bill provide that presiding and returning officers, who knowingly fail to sign or fill completely result forms, submit incomplete forms or change or falsify them risk five years in jail without the option of a fine.

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