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President Uhuru Kenyatta signs controversial electoral bill into law

By Graham Kajilwa and PSCU | Published Tue, January 10th 2017 at 00:00, Updated January 9th 2017 at 23:09 GMT +3
CORD MPs march to the Milimani Law Courts after they disagreed in Parliament over the Elections Laws Amendment Bill, which was signed into law yesterday. [PHOTO: FILE/Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has assented to the Elections Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

This means the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) can now put in place a complementary mechanism for identification of voters and transmission of elections results, the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit said in a statement.

That complementary mechanism, says the new law, must be "simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent to ensure the commission complies with the provisions of Article 38 of the Constitution".

President Kenyatta signed the bill at State House, Nairobi upon his arrival from attending former nominated MP Mark Too's funeral in Eldoret.

The new law, passed by the Senate on Thursday night, was signed amid disquiet in the Opposition.

The Bill had earlier been debated in the National Assembly where a heated exchange of words and blows was witnessed.

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IEBC can now adopt a manual back-up as an alternative to the integrated electronic system already stipulated in the law.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Solicitor General Njee Muturi, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and the Clerk of the National Assembly Justin Bundi witnessed the signing of the amended Bill into law.

The amendments generated some of the most heated debates both in the National Assembly and Senate.

In the National Assembly, Jubilee, who are the majority, voted for the amendments, while in the Senate a largely bi-partisan vote passed the amendments.

Besides the complementary voting mechanism, there are new insertions in the amended law including the requirement for MPs and MCAs to have a degree from a recognised university.

IEBC is also mandated to issue political parties with certificates of compliance upon receipt of nomination rules from the said parties.

CORD is against the manual adoption, arguing that it will allow the incumbent to manipulate the election process.

CORD has contested how Senate speaker Ekwee Ethuro steered a vote on the Bill.

Mr Ethuro allowed nominated senators to vote without the relevant authorisation, getting the bill through the crucial second reading with a 22-19 vote in favour of Jubilee.