Senate endorses new election laws, Uhuru to sign before weekend
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to sign the controversial election laws as the Senate has adopted a Bill forwarded by the National Assembly on Wednesday.
A Thursday afternoon session dominated by Jubilee members voted to pass Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
This was despite pressure by NASA, clerics, European Union observers and Western diplomats for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party to drop the changes.
Groups opposed to the proposed election laws termed Jubilee’s move suspicious and aimed at derailing justice.
They also noted the changes just days to the expected October 26 election are against international standards.
The opponents also said the timing is suspicious and wanted Jubilee to shelve the Bill shelved until the election is conducted.
Jubilee leaders, however, ignored the call to drop the changes and insisted it was the appropriate time to implement the amendments.
A five-member special committee of the Senate, chaired by Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo, held a two-hour public hearing on the amendments on Thursday morning.
It then tabled the report and debated the Bill in the House before it was passed.
Dullo, also the deputy minority leader, defended the laws on grounds they will seal gaps in existing electoral laws to avoid technicalities that saw President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election nullified by the Supreme Court.
“There is nothing wrong with we are doing as legislators. We are within the law and nothing is illegal concerning this law,” she said.
Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi criticised NASA Senators for boycotting the committee’s hearings and session to pass the laws.
He said their presence would have allowed them to present their coalition’s irreducible minimums for reforms at IEBC for consideration and possible addition into law.
“When the country is in a mood where questions are more than answers, a solution can only be found through a real framework. This country needs answers for every sector and group of people,” Wamatangi said.
Senators passed the Bill during the afternoon session chaired by speaker Kenneth Lusaka. There were no further amendments to what was forwarded by the National Assembly.
Jubilee’s plan is for the President to sign the Bill into law before the end of the week. NASA chief Raila Odinga has opposed the changes and wants reforms at IEBC so he can participate in the repeat election,
He withdrew his and DP hopeful Kalonzo Musyoka’s candidature before flying to the UK.
Among amendments the Bill proposes is that a presidential candidate who remains in the race after the withdrawal of his or her opponent will be declared President.
The Bill allows manually transmitted results to prevail in case of a discrepancy between those transmitted electronically and manually.
It also provides that failure to transmit or publish the election results in an electronic format shall not invalidate the results as announced and declared by the respective presiding and returning officers at the polling station and constituency tallying centre.
Contentious IEBC clauses such as one delegating chairman’s powers to the vice chair or other IEBC commissioners were dropped.
The clause that sought to reduce the quorum at the commission from five to three and changes to qualifications of the electoral agency’s chair was also dropped.
The Bill had proposed that any anyone, not just a layer, can be the commission’s chairperson, contrary to the constitutional provision.