Members of Parliament on Thursday voted 144-53 in favor of shortening the maturation period for two Election Bills seeking to change the way presidential elections will be conducted and to punish errant presiding officers and returning officers in the repeat and subsequent elections.
National Super Alliance allied MPs forced National Assembly Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi to order for physical voting after they lost the first round of voting by acclamation. Jubilee Party MPs then flexed their numerical advantage in the house to win that round.
This prompted opposition MPs to storm out of the house in protest, arguing the move by Jubilee to change the laws managing the elections would take the country back to the days of bad management of elections.
Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch presented that without a substantive Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, it was improper to table the law. He further argued the decision would not bode well for peace in a country that has been in election mood for most of this year.
“We owe ourselves and the country the duty to bring down this tension. If we continue in the direction the Leader of Majority is taking, we are likely to increase the tension,” said Aluoch.
However, Majority leader Aden Duale insisted that MPs were only being called upon to make laws, one of the mandates they have been given in the Constitution.
“Nobody can deny this House or these members that fundamental right in the Constitution. This is my role and it is the plenary (to either) agree with my proposal (or) ... disagree with my proposal,” said Duale.
“What this Bill is trying to do is one, rise to the occasion to the judgement given by the Supreme Court, both by the majority and the minority, that Parliament must make changes to the laws used to govern the elections,” Duale said.
“This Bill is saying, ‘Yes. Let the two systems, the manual system and the electronic transmission, move concurrently’. That the chairman must have the forms before he announces the winner,” he added.
The Garissa township MP also said the Bills are simply attempting to “clean-up” the law in line with the decision of the Court of Appeal in the Maina Kiai case.
“There is nothing mischievous and do not bring something that is not in this Bill,” he added.
Opposition MPs, however dismissed the arguments and rejected the Bills in total.
Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo presented that even if it is passed and assented to, the Bill would still be legally doomed.
“No matter what we do, to the extent to the Bill that is contemplated, that Bill, even if we pass it and it is assented to, that Bill would be unconstitutional. It would likely lead to the postponement of the elections to a date that we don’t know,” he argued.
“If you change the law, the IEBC will be at a crossroads; does it follow the Supreme Court’s directions or the law as hurriedly changed by Parliament?” he said.