11 October 2017

Kenya: MPs Repeal Law Barring Govt Adverts During Elections

Nairobi — Members of the National Assembly have passed an amendment to the Election Offences Act by deleting a provision that bars the government from advertising its achievements during the election period.

Majority Leader Aden Duale explained the law was unconstitutional because it denied Kenyans the right to information by a public institution.

Duale asked the House to back his proposal to delete Subsection (2) of Section 14 which limits the right of access to information held by the State as specified in that law during the election period.

He said the principal object of his Bill is to amend the part of the Election Offences Act, 2016 to ensure that it conforms to Article 35 of the Constitution.

"Article 35 (1) (a) provides that every citizen has a right of access to information held by the State. Article 35 (3) further provides that the State shall publish and publicize any important information affecting the nation. How do you hide the milestone achievement of the SGR and you don't want to connect it to one Uhuru Kenyatta," Duale stated.

The amendment is now to be transmitted to the Senate for approval after which it will become part of the county's laws once President Kenyatta assents to it.

High Court Justice Chacha Mwita on October 2 granted the application by Katiba Institute and ordered the government through the Presidential Delivery Unit not to advertise its achievements in print, electronic, banners or in public places.

The lobby group has sued Presidential Delivery Unit's Nzioka Waita, Andrew Wakahiu and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.

In the application, the civil society group wanted PDU to give them information on all the government advertisements that were being aired in all local media stations days before the August 8 General Election.

Katiba Institute also wanted to know how much of the public money was spent before the election and if it was necessary to air the adverts.

The NGO wants to establish the extent of the violation of the electoral law by the government during the campaign period.

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