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NGO seeks to block Elections Act amendments

By By Judy Ogutu | Published Thu, June 28th 2012 at 00:00, Updated June 28th 2012 at 09:03 GMT +3

By Judy Ogutu

A consortium of non-governmental organisations wants the Attorney General restrained from introducing in Parliament amendments to the Elections and Political Parties Act.

The contentious amendments touch on party hopping, and education qualifications for MPs.

On Wednesday, Mr Wambua Kawive filed a petition at the High Court in Nairobi on behalf of the Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (Creco).

Creco is a coalition of 25 civil society organisations involved in promoting democracy, legal governance, and human rights.

Through lawyer Kithure Kindiki, the petitioner argues that President Kibaki refused to assent to the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill, 2012, which was passed by Parliament on June 21.

Creco argues that the President did not point out in his memorandum to the National Assembly the unconstitutionality of the aspects of the Bill as well as the procedure followed to enact it.

“Instead, he (President Kibaki) asked the National Assembly to restrain from legislating on two provisions of the Bill, the matter of which is pending before courts for determination,” he argued. The petitioner argues that the amendments were brought without following the procedure for such legislation and public participation as required.

Violates rights

Consequently, Creco wants the court to declare that the amendments contained in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 2012 are inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore null and void “to the extent of their inconsistency”.

The petitioner is seeking orders to compel the President to defend the Constitution and justify the refusal to assent to the Bill on the basis of unconstitutionality of all the proposed amendments.

Creco contends that the amendments offend the letter and spirit of the Constitution and introducing them violates fundamental rights and freedoms.

The petitioner fears that the said law is likely to be passed with the unconstitutional provisions thereby violating its rights as well as those of other Kenyans.

“In any case the National Assembly may overturn the President’s request to reconsider the Bill in which case the President shall be compelled to sign the Bill failure to which it shall become law automatically,” Kindiki said.

And Parliament is expected on Thursday to reopen debate on the Bill. The two contentious amendments, seek to block candidates who do not have university degrees from running for parliamentary, senate and governor seats. The second one allows candidates to switch political parties until Election Day.



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