Kenya:House adopts changes to poll laws as Cord takes battle to court

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The National Assembly has passed all proposed amendments to the elections Act amid protests from ODM leaning MPs.

MPs on Thursday morning debated changes proposed by the Legal Affairs Committee, which among other things, reinstated provisions for manual identification of voters in case the electronic system fails.

The House also adopted a proposal for manual transmission of results, which the Orange party had opposed.

The Jubilee Party took advantage of its numbers in the House to push through the changes to Elections Laws (Amended) Act.

CORD IN COURT

But by the time the amendments were being passed, ODM MPs were on their way to the High Court where the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy has filed a case challenging revision of the negotiated poll regulations.

After passing the changes in a record 45 minutes, Jubilee MPs walked out of the House chanting victory songs. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Cord, represented by lawyer James Orengo, has sued the National Assembly and Attorney-General .

The hearing before Justice George Odunga was attended by Cord leader Raila Odinga who on Wednesday vowed that there will be no elections if Jubilee passed changes to the poll laws.

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ODM termed the new move “part of Jubilee’s scheme to allow dead voters to vote, as well as ballot stuffing in 2017.”

“How do you have a thriving multi-billion mobile money sector, file our tax returns online, have a Sh150 billion fully online gambling industry, and then you want to tell us that a 12-hour election once every five years cannot be done electronically?” said ODM director of elections Junet Mohamed (Suna East).

Security was stepped up around Parliament Buildings early in the morning in anticipation of chaos that marred the Tuesday session. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In a dramatic development, Parliament passed amendments to provide for “complementary” transmission of results and identification of voters if technology fails.

Earlier, a live broadcast from the Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit was cut off, journalists blocked from accessing the gallery, and the chamber cordoned off.

ROADS CLOSED

NTV Reporter Kennedy Muriithi was arrested and his phone confiscated for taking photo of the MPs as they went into the House.

He was later released.

In the morning, MPs were forced to walk after Parliament Road and Harambee Road were cordoned off.

The legislators used the public entrance opposite the County Hall with their usual entrance opposite the Kenyatta International Convention Centre blocked by anti-riot police.

Security was stepped up around Parliament Buildings early in the morning in anticipation of chaos that marred the Tuesday session. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

After passing the changes in a record 45 minutes, Jubilee MPs walked out of the House chanting victory songs.

The celebration was a hit-back at their Cord counterparts who broke into song and dance after frustrating discussion of the changes during the Tuesday sitting.

SECURITY

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi convened the Thursday sitting minutes after the chaotic Tuesday session.

Security was stepped up around Parliament Buildings early in the morning in anticipation of chaos that marred the Tuesday session.

Officers from the General Service Unit were stationed at the intersections of Uhuru Highway and Parliament Road, and that of City Hall Way, Parliament Road and Harambee Avenue.

Cord MPs walk out of the House in protest. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Officers on horses also patrolled the roads around the Parliament, as uniformed police officers patrolled on foot.

PEPPER SPRAY

Nairobi County Police Commander Japhet Koome said officers drawn from the Kenya Police Service, the Administration Police Service and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations had been mobilised to keep vigil.

“We have been experiencing some slight chaos among Members of Parliament and we do not want to take chances. We want to ensure there is peace, even as the conduct their sitting,” Mr Koome said.

The Tuesday sitting was marred by war of words, push and shove and alleged pepper-spraying of some lawmakers.

©Alleastafrica and Daily nation

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