11 October 2017

Kenya: Parliament Passes Bill to Amend 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.

The National Assembly has passed a controversial bill to amend election laws.

MPs passed amendments to the bill on Wednesday morning backed by Jubilee Party.

Seven amendments were introduced to the bill by the committee chaired by Baringo North MP William Cheptumo after last week's public bearings.

CHANGES

Mr Cheptumo announced on Tuesday that he will be dropping the provision in the bill that scraps the requirement that the chairman of the electoral commission be a lawyer qualified for appointment as a Supreme Court judge.

In the amendments to be considered by the House this morning, he has proposed changes that would make it clear when the vice-chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission would as the chairman.

Mr Cheptumo proposes that this happen when there is a vacancy in the office of the chairman or when the chairman is absent. This would provide for a resignation of the chairman or an absence by any other means.

He also seeks to make changes to make it a requirement for the IEBC to transmit results of the elections electronically and manually deliver them to the constituency and national tallying centers.

Mr Cheptumo has also proposed provisions for how the IEBC is to handle the results.

One of his amendments states: "The Commission shall verify that the results transmitted under this section are an accurate record of the results tallied, verified and declared at the respective polling stations."

He also proposes: "Where there is a discrepancy between the electronically transmitted and the physically delivered results, the Commission shall verify the results and the result which is an accurate record of the results tallied, verified and declared at the respective polling station shall prevail."

He has also provided for the chairman of the commission to declare the winner in a presidential contest without all the results, provided the remaining results are insignificant.

MINOR DISCREPANCIES

His proposed amendment states: "The Chairperson may declare a candidate elected as the President before all the constituencies have transmitted their results if the Commission is satisfied the results that have not been received will not affect the result of the election."

Mr Cheptumo has also refined a provision that would prevent the annulment of a result on the basis of minor discrepancies.

His amendments states that a court shall not declare an election void for non-compliance with the law if it appears that the election was conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the Constitution and that the non-compliance did not substantially affect the result of the election.

The financial penalties on election officials who fail to do their job will also be doubled from Sh1 million to Sh2 million in addition to a five-year jail term.

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