Parliament Set to Pass Referendum, Polls Laws

Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Justin Muturi: Photo Courtesy

Members of Parliament are racing against time to pass electoral laws to guide how the referendum will be conducted. The parliament is also enacting laws to oversee the appointment of poll commissioners, and the procurement of election equipment.

Some of the pending bills are about the establishment of procedures for the recruitment of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners. 

Currently, only three are in office — Mr. Wafula Chebukati, Prof Abdi Guliye, and Mr. Boya Molu—following the resignation of four others.  Ms. Connie Nkatha, Ms. Margaret Mwachanya, and Mr. Paul Kurgat quit in 2018 while Roselyne Akombe resigned in the previous year.  

Without a legal appointment of a selection panel, the recruitment of new IEBC commissioners cannot be done.

The selection panel that recruited the team in the office was dissolved and MPs are bartering over the membership of a new team, which is an alleged attempt to influence the appointment of new election commissioners.

The new laws are a necessity to also enable IEBC conduct a referendum, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) reforms are expected to occasion soon, and for ensuring free and fair elections in 2022.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has told MPs to conclude the stalled electoral reforms bills as the country is heading to the polls in 23 months. Prof Guliye said the commission had reminded MPs that new legal provisions should be enacted at least two years before the next elections so as not to interfere with preparations for the polls.

Among the proposed laws pending in Parliament are the Election Campaign Financing (Amendment) Bill, the IEBC (Amendment) Bill and the Referendum Bill.

The IEBC (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend section 36 of the IEBC Act that is geared to guiding the redrawing of electoral boundaries. All these reforms are behind the stipulated schedule and concern might amount to the levels parliament will wait until the last minute to pass the laws.

National Assembly Speaker Justine Muturi has asked the newly reconstituted Justice and Legal Affairs committee under the great leadership of Muturi Kigano and his Rarieda counterpart Otiende Amollo to give number one priority to the proposed laws.

“Let us not wait for too long and start burning the midnight oil and walking up down, we can be proactive and do what needs to be done early. Justice and Legal and Affairs committee, the ball is in your court,” Justin Muturi retorted.

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Written by Hello News

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