3 November 2017

Kenya: Contentious Amendments to Election Laws Come Into Effect

Photo: Capital FM
A voter casts their ballot in the October 26 presidential poll.

Nairobi — The contentious Election Laws (Amendment) Act has effectively become law after having been gazetted.

The Act was published in a special issue of the Kenya Gazette that was published Thursday and has the date of assent indicated as October 28, two days after the repeat presidential election.

Among the significant provisions of the bill is a clause that would make it difficult for the Supreme Court to annul the election of the President based on minor inconsistencies.

The controversial laws were sent to President Uhuru Kenyatta for signing after both Houses of Parliament passed the laws amid stiff opposition from the minority leaders in the in the Houses.

Kenyatta however failed to assent to the laws in the 14 day period following their passage, a decision he explained in his acceptance speech after being declared winner of last week's presidential poll.

Kenyatta said his decision not to assent to the bill prior to the conduct of the October 26 poll was informed by accusations that it would tilt the 'playing field' as it were, in his favour.

According to Article 116 (2) of the Constitution, an Act of Parliament comes into force on the fourteenth day after its publication in the Gazette, unless the Act stipulates a different date or time at which it will come into force.

Last week, activist Okiya Omtatah sued the State over the laws.

According to Omtatah, the changes made to the law are unlawful since it allows people who do not possess the same qualifications as that of the Chairperson of the electoral agency to perform his/her duties.

It is Omtatah's position that that the changes are illegal as they also undermine the electronic voting technologies hence making it impossible to eliminate corrupt practices in elections.

He argued that lowering quorum to three in transacting the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's business is unreasonable as it would make it possible to have two rival factions.

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