Jubilee MPs say they are ready to amend election laws before August polls

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Jubilee is ready to amend the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill which it pushed through both houses of Parliament.

On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Prof Kithure Kindiki and his deputy Kipchumba Murkomen said there is room for amendments once the Bill becomes law.

The senators said they pushed for the passage of the contentious election laws to save the electoral agency from delays in preparing for the next General Election.

The Bill that largely roots for a ‘complementary mechanism’ for identification of voters and transmission of results, was passed without amendments, a few minutes to midnight on Thursday, paving way for President Uhuru Kenyatta to sign it into law.oo

Prof Kindiki said Parliament had to fast track the process of coming up with the requisite laws required to guarantee a free and fair election while ensuring eligible voters are not locked out of the exercise.

“There is nothing that prevents amendments being done on the laws once operational. We had to balance between the need to give certainty on matters of election,”
“Laws can be revisited or relooked. It is not an end in itself. What happened was the voice of the majority of Kenyans given that 26 counties voted to support the amendments against 10 counties,” Prof Kindiki said.

He said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has been complaining of strict timelines given that the next General Election will be held on August 8.

CHANGE LEGISLATION

Besides delays in procurement of election materials, the new commissioners are still waiting to be vetted by Parliament before assuming office.

“I will not be surprised if such amendments start as soon as possible,” Prof Kindiki said during a press conference at Parliament Buildings.

Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula has disputed the process through which the laws were passed, saying it was unfair and unauthorised senators were allowed to vote.

Mr Murkomen downplayed concerns that there was a sinister agenda behind Jubilee’s rush to change legislations that had been arrived at through a bipartisan approach that involved politicians from both sides of the political divide.

“Parliament is dynamic and people are dynamic. Even next week if a better idea comes up we shall amend the law,” Mr Murkomen said,
Mr Murkomen dismissed claims that the Senate ignored views collected when the Bill was subjected to public participation.

He said the Bill does not advocate for use of a manual system of voting or identification of voters as Kenyans have been made to believe.

“No single registered voter will be told not to vote on an account of a particular method not working. The IEBC will ensure no Kenyan voter is disfranchised during an election,” Mr Murkomen said.

GUARANTEE CREDIBLE RESULTS

But critics of the Bill have questioned why the lawmakers did not specify instances when the complementary mechanism can be used, saying the provision is prone to abuse given that the IEBC is yet to be trusted.

During the Public hearings, the Council of governors, Media Owners Association and the Chamber of Commerce said electronic identification of voters and transmission of results was the best alternative to guarantee credible results.

They said electoral laws must be arrived at through consensus lest the country might plunge into chaos, as it happened in 2008 following the disputed presidential results.

They appealed to the Opposition to respect institutions charged with resolving disputes

The two leaders also took issue with Cord for always rallying Kenyans to violence whenever an agenda they want fails to succeed.

“It is not easy to lose especially in a political environment. But, there is always tomorrow. Cord should stop this habit of intimidating Kenyans,” Prof Kindiki said.

They appealed to the Opposition to respect institutions charged with resolving disputes, saying failure to follow the law is dangerous for the country.

“I can understand why the Opposition is unhappy with the results. They didn’t get enough numbers. But that is the essence of democracy. One of the tenets of democracy is to be gracious in defeat,” Prof Kindiki said.

Alleastafrrica and Daily Nation

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