10 October 2017

Kenya: Senate to Await National Assembly Debate Election Laws

Photo: Dennis Onsongo/Daily Nation
Senator Fatuma Dullo (left) and Baringo North MP William Cheptumo - chairpersons of the parliamentary ad hoc committee handling the proposed changes to the election laws - pay attention during proceedings at Continental house, Nairobi, on October 3, 2017.

Nairobi — The Senate on Tuesday temporarily delayed debate on the controversial electoral laws.

While rising to notify the House about the election laws (amendments), Deputy Majority Leader and Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo said that the House would engage on the matter at a later date.

The move by the leadership of the Majority Coalition in the House to put off debate on the contentious laws is in line with article 110 (4) of the Constitution which provides that a Bill concerning County Governments once approved by the National Assembly shall be referred to the Senate for concurrence.

The National Assembly officially began debating the laws on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier on Tuesday during a press conference at Parliament buildings, Opposition lawmakers led by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr had questioned the nature by which the Bills were to be debated simultaneously in both Houses of Parliament.

"Nowhere in the bicameral system has one Bill been tabled and debated simultaneously in the two Houses of Parliament," said Kilonzo.

It is on the same briefing by the Opposition legislators that they revealed that they will not attend sittings to debate proposed controversial changes to the election laws in the National Assembly and the Senate.

National Assembly Minority Leader and Suba South Member of Parliament John Mbadi said the decision by the coalition lawmakers to skip the exercise was informed by the fact that the process was "illegal and unconstitutional."

"We are convinced that the two Bills pose a threat to the country and that they are unconstitutional and flawed based on the content and the process involved," said Mbadi.

On the electoral laws, Capital FM News learnt that the Jubilee lawmakers have dropped certain clauses that targeted the electoral commission.

The Joint Select Committee has dropped a clause delegating some of the chairman's powers to the vice chair or other IEBC Commissioners.

On the quorum that it should be reduced to three commissioners as proposed in the initial draft of the Bill, the committee dropped that clause as well.

The decision to drop some of the clauses was arrived at by the Jubilee lawmakers in a Parliamentary Group meeting chaired by Majority Leader Aden Duale on Tuesday morning.

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