Parliament to change elections law

By Peter Opiyo

Parliament is set to amend the Elections Act to allow more time for the scrutiny and endorsement of Elections Regulations. It will also amend the Act to extend the time for registration of voters and closure of the voter register.

The agreement was hammered at the Speaker’s Kamukunji (informal meeting of MPs) where MPs were of the view that more time is needed to scrutinize the regulations.

The Regulations, according to the Elections Act, must be in place six months before the General Election and the Executive wants it to be amended so that they are in place four months to the polls. The deadline for the six months proved unattainable as it expired yesterday before the regulations could be passed.

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The regulations contain the controversial nomination fees set by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), rules on voter registration as well as diaspora voting.

At a press Conference at Parliament’s Media Centre Mr Wamalwa and Chairman of Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) said the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2012 has been dispatched to the government printer for publication.

Mr Abikadir said the extension would allow Parliament to critically look at the regulations before their approval.

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“The Election regulations are critical and require Parliament to have enough time to debate them. Members of the public and Kenyans in diaspora also need to give their inputs on the rules. So both amendments are absolutely necessary,” said Abdikadir.

The Minister said he is in receipt of complaints from various organisations on the nomination fees and the two months would be the time to consider such petitions.

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“It will allow public participation and allow relevant committees to do a thorough job. It will accord the public an opportunity to give input on the nomination fees,” said Mr Wamalwa.

IEBC has proposed Sh500, 000 for those seeking presidential slots, Sh150, 000 for Parliamentary aspirants and Sh250, 000 for Senators, governors and county assembly women representatives.

Mr Abikadir pointed out that they could only have the voter register closed 60 days before the polls, instead of the 90 days as stipulated in the Act. IEBC wanted the register to be closed 45 days before the elections but Mr. Abdikadir said this would coincide with nominations of candidates hence complicate matters.

Everything concerning elections, the minister assured, are in place saying the procurement of the Biometric Voter Registration Kits would soon be realized. The Cabinet Sub-Committee tasked with the job has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Canada for the purchase of the kits.

The Executive also intends to provide a legal mechanism to ensure the two-third gender rule is realized. MPs are moving to Mombasa to discuss the Constitution of Kenya (Ammendment) Bill to find a way of attaining the gender requirement.

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Wamalwa said they would amend the Bill to do away with the proposals of the elections date as well as on the delimitation of boundaries so that the gender aspect can be dealt with. The current Constitution is silent on how to amend a Constitutional amendment Bill but Wamalwa said they would exploit this to do the amendments.

“What is not prohibited by the law is not a law,” Mr Wamalwa said. The Old Constitution prohibited any amendment to a Constitutional amendment Bill. He said they also working on the Campaign Financing Bill to regulate campaign funding.

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