Kenya: IEBC to Sanction Parties That Violate Gender Rule Under BBI Reforms

25 November 2020

Nairobi — Political parties' risk being sanctioned by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) if a new gender proposal contained in the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020 is passed.

In the proposed legislation under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), political parties must ensure that their list of nominated candidates comply with the principle that not more than one-third of such candidates are of the same gender.

Once implemented, the Bill states, it will facilitate the actualization of the gender rule in the electoral process from the nomination stage.

Since the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, Parliament has on numerous occasions failed to enact the two-thirds gender rule, a provision provided for in Article 27 that is aimed at ensuring gender parity and fairness in appointments.

The failure on the part of the bicameral Parliament prompted Chief Justice David Maraga to issue an advisory to President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament over its failure to enact a law on gender balance.

In his advisory, Maraga told the Head of State that Parliament had blatantly failed, refused or neglected to pass the crucial law since August 2010 when the current Constitution was promulgated.

"Let us endure the pain, if we must if only to remind ourselves, as a country, that choices, and particularly choices on constitutional obligations, have consequences," Maraga said.

Six petitions had called for the House dissolution, citing its several failed attempts to enact the Gender Bill despite four court orders.

President Kenyatta has not responded or acted on the advisory.

When he led the launch of the BBI signatures on Wednesday, President Kenyatta said the provision in the new Bill will cure the gender challenge.

"Women leaders will now comprise 50% of all Senators. This means that they will be in charge of determining how we spend 35% of the resources available," he said, "there is a new mechanism for ensuring greater and meaningful participation of women in the National Assembly".

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