By MARTIN MUTUA and PETER OPIYO
Concern over the three Bills on land set the stage for Parliament to make history Thursday with its first amendment of the current Constitution.
A total of 150 MPs voted to extend the period allowed by the Constitution for passing the Bills, with one member voting against the Motion.
The draft legislation is the Land Bill 2012, Land Registration Bill 2012, and National Land Commission Bill 2012.
Chapter 16 and Articles 255 and 256 of the Constitution outline how the charter can be amended. The successful Motion to extend debate on the land Bills falls within the list of amendments that do not need approval by a national referendum.
The Motion passed by 150 members out of the 152 present in the House allowed for extension of debate and passage of the three critical Bills. It showed that MPs could be rallied to amend the Constitution in matters of strong national interest.
If the Motion had been defeated, MPs would have been forced to debate and pass the Bills by February 27, an oddity since Parliament has never sat on a Sunday.
Being a Constitutional (amendment) Bill the law required two-thirds (148) of the 220 MPs to vote in its favour.
Garsen MP Danson Mungatana, who was the only one opposed to the Bill, argued that Parliament was capable of rising to the occasion and debating them to conclusion before the weekend.
"It is just like the exams. Every time they (exams) come people panic, and they also want extensions. Even if we seek one month, we shall still not be ready. LetÂfs tell the truth. If we were not here to debate the Land Registration Bill, National Land Commission Bill, many people will not be here even after the extension," said Mungatana.
The Bills will now come back to Parliament after 60 days for debate, and must be passed by MPs within 30 days afterwards.
MPs accused the Government of putting unnecessary pressure on them to rush through debating the Bills without giving them time to peruse the draft laws properly.