NASA,Jubilee senators differ sharply on proposed election laws
Jubilee senators yesterday joined their colleagues in National Assembly in pushing for radical changes in electoral laws proposed by their party before the upcoming October 26 fresh presidential poll.
A new bill seeking changes to the existing Elections laws Jubilee believes have “certain legal lacunas” that saw President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reelection nullified was introduced in the House for deliberation.
Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen while notifying the House of the new bill proposed the formation of a nine-member Select Committee comprising of Jubilee and NASA members to receive proposals from the public and report back for consideration.
Murkomen said the proposed Elections Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017 is pegged on addressing the legal lacunas in the current electoral laws with respect to Parliament’s lawmaking duty and judicial directive for elections to conform to provisions of the Constitution.
“…noting that such election-related matters would ordinarily require consideration by the relevant committee of the House which is yet to be established, further noting that the limited period of time before the date of the said fresh election…,” reads part of the Bill’s motion.
“…cognizant of the urgent need to consider and conclude with all matters relating to the elections to allow the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission ample time to implement any changes related to the review of the election-related laws.”
Jubilee has already named its five members to the proposed Select Committee on Election Laws and it waiting for NASA to submit its four members.
Jubilee members include senators Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo), Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) and Naomi Jillo (nominated).
The committee is expected to report back to the House before October 10 after senators resume from their short recess that started yesterday.
The Bill sponsored by deputy majority leader Fatuma Dullo is similar to one introduced in National Assembly yesterday morning awaiting deliberation by a 15-member Select Committee of Jubilee and NASA members before reporting back to the House.
The bill proposes the empowerment of IEBC vice chair to declare the presidential election in the absence of the chair.
It also proposes that manually presidential results be considered final in event the electronic results fail during the transmission from the 290 constituencies to the national tallying centre.
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, religious leaders and opposition have opposed Jublee’s proposed laws.
Only a handful of National Super Alliance senators Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni), Sam Ongeri (Kisii), Ledama Ole Kina (Narok) and Fred Outa (Kisumu) were present in the afternoon House session when the motion to amend the election laws was presented. Their colleagues continued with House boycott.
Kilonzo demanded the temporary Speaker Margaret Kamar to issue a ruling whether the proposed Bill was properly and legally before the Senate on grounds there was duplication of work between the two Houses since National Assembly was considering same matter.
“My objection is that we are having a practice which I don’t think it happens in any bicameral Parliament in the world. In what circumstances can we have one bill published and concurrently tabled in both Houses for deliberation? This is going to end up in court,” Kilonzo said.
He also questioned why the Bill duplicated from National Assembly’s that doesn’t concern counties would be allowed to Senate in the disguise of concerning the 47 devolved units.
Murkomen, however, responded that bill was a private member sponsored and that the select committee will ascertain whether it resembles the National Assembly’s and explore other ways of tackling it.
The NASA senators opposed the bill and the nine-member select committee.
“You cannot unilaterally set up a select committee on lection matters yet we all know challenges witnessed in the last election such as electronic results manipulation. You are simply using your tyranny of numbers to bulldoze issues selectively,” Ongeri said.
Outa cautioned Jubilee senators that NASA will not allow them to abuse their tyranny of numbers to mutilate laws passed and supported by majority of Kenyans.
“Jubilee is pushing to amend these elections laws to bring chaos in this country. We will continue to hold protests to defeat this law taking this country back to dark days,” Outa said.
Jubilee senators, however, insist that the amendments are the ultimate cure of protecting voters from being denied their will after electing the president of their choice but the Supreme Court cancels the election on “technicalities.”