Kenya: Ruto Pitches for Senate Elevation, Cautions Against Party-Nominated IEBC Commissioners

27 October 2020

Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto on Monday expressed reservations over the modeling of the Senate under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitution review process, saying the proposed structure creates a weaken Senate.

Dr Ruto who spoke during the launch of the BBI report at the Bomas of Kenya said the Senate should instead be strengthened into an Upper House to confer it adequate oversight functions.

While lauding the gender balance envisaged in the Senate through the election of a male and female Senator from each of the 47 counties, Dr Ruto said the contribution by 47 women Senators elected from counties alongside their male colleagues will only be meaningful in an Upper House Senate.

"I agree that the increase of shareable revenue to 35 per cent is progressive and that we must devolve more resources to counties. But we must also ensure the Senate has the necessary constitutional power to ensure these monies are not only availed but properly utilize," he told the audience.

"To recommend that the Senate cannot continue to have the constitutional mandate of division of revenue is actually a downgrade," Ruto stated.

He added: "If we're saying that women now go to the Senate but they're going to a downgraded Senate: Are you enhancing the participation of women or downgrading it?"

Dr Ruto also expressed concern over the proposed appointment of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) members by two major political parties.

He said the proposed appointment structure could portend chaos in the management of elections in the country.

"How fair will a league where the referee is appointed by, not all the teams, but some teams?" he posed.

Ruto also dismissed as illogical the argument that an expanded national executive will enhance inclusivity and resolve the challenge of divisive elections.

The DP pointed out that the sharing of additional executive positions by the winning party does not guarantee inclusion.

"In the current arrangement for instance, our Majority Leader in the National Assembly would be the Prime Minister, two other House leaders will be deputies; what happened to the Minority Party?"

Dr Ruto also warned against the formation of a Police Council chaired by an Interior Minister would derogate the independence of the police, calling for the strengthening of the National Police Service Commission and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.

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