By ALEX NDEGWA
President Kibaki has cleared a legal hurdle that obstructed by-elections to fill three vacant parliamentary seats following the deaths of Cabinet ministers John Michuki, George Saitoti, and Orwa Ojode.
His assent of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2012 facilitates holding of by-elections in Kangema, Kajiado North, and Ndhiwa constituencies.
Through the omnibus legislation, the Elections Act was amended to enable National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende to issue writs declaring the three seats vacant.
There had been a legal lacuna because the enactment of the Elections Act repealed the National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act, which empowered the Speaker to declare vacancies.
It is only after the Speaker’s decree – within two months in case the vacancy is as a result of death of the incumbent according to the repealed law – that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission can conduct by-elections.
And the signing into law of the Bill has extended the tenure of the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Board to February 28, next year.
Another amendment to the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act 2011, referred vetting of magistrates from the board to the Judicial Service Commission.
The move has, however, been challenged in court by various lobby groups, including the Law Society of Kenya and is now awaiting a ruling to determine whether the amendment was lawful.
The Act also permits the reappointment of commissioners to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission whose term is set to expire. However, MPs amended the initial proposal in the Bill that would have allowed the President to make the appointments unilaterally. Instead, the commissioners will be appointed by the President but with the approval of Parliament.
The Act also contains an amendment that extends the tenure of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to allow it to prepare its report.