By MARTIN MUTUA and PETER OPIYO
An estimated 80 Members of Parliament who effectively stood barred from running in coming elections because of they lack university degrees must have toasted to the high heavens.
Also celebrating with them following President Kibaki’s decision to return the amended Bill to Parliament must be all candidates who lacked the requisite papers to meet the requirement first removed and later reinstated by MPs last week.
But the MPs could also have a new nightmare because it means a vote will have to again be taken on the changes it made to the Elections Act to sanction party hopping till election day.
This was what the MPs jealously guarded, even to the point of locking out their colleagues without degrees and blocking Presidential candidates from running for any other elective post.
But one thing seems certain; the MPs may lower the bar for those without degrees to run for the three posts, but it is unlikely they will outlaw party hopping within the election date because usually this is the season of defections — where those who lose out nomination tickets cross to other parties.
It is also now uncertain if the MPs will also revisit the clause they had introduced at the amendment stage to allow political parties to nominate candidates who will be beaten in the presidential race back to Parliament.
The President communicated his decision after Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka spoke the same language, particularly on preference for removal of barriers against non-degree holders. This was a further sign there had been discussions high up in government on the matter and the two were only communicating what had been agreed upon.
While refusing to assent to the Statute Law (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2012 that contained the controversial changes, Kibaki in a memorandum he sent to House Speaker Kenneth Marende last evening, said the issue of changing parties was subject of various court cases.
“The President refused to sign into law the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2012 in exercise of the powers conferred on him by section 46 (3) of the former Constitution,” added the memorandum.
The president said the cases were still pending in court and in keeping with doctrine of separation of powers, matters before court should not be subject of legislation by Parliament. In what may be unpleasant news to the MPs, the President proposed the amendment be deleted from the Bill.
On university degrees for those vying for the presidency, deputy President, Governor and their deputies, Kibaki said the matter was equally the subject of a court case filed by Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama.
Kibaki in refusing to assent to the Bill on this matter cited the same reasons of separation of powers and recommended that the section be deleted from the Bill.