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MP seeks special treatment for Motion on draft law

BUSINESS
By | July 7th 2010

By Alex Ndegwa and Francis Ngige

A Motion to speed up debate on a Bill seeking to postpone the referendum to allow negotiations on contentious issues is being lobbied.

Bill sponsor Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau yesterday wrote to the House Business Committee, which was due to meet last night, to schedule for today the Motion seeking to reduce publication days from 14 to five.

Kamau was optimistic the Motion would appear in today’s order paper to facilitate debate and determination of the Bill seeking to amend the Constitution alongside the Constitution of Kenya Review Act 2008 to refer the proposed constitution to the reference group.

The effect of the Motion is to waive a requirement by the Standing Orders that a Bill can only be introduced in the Hose after expiry of 14 days from date of publication.

Kamau’s Bill was published last Friday.

With Parliament scheduled to go on recess this week and reopen after the referendum, Kamau maintains the "fat lady hasn’t sung yet for Kenya". But going by the Standing Orders, the earliest the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2010 can be tabled in Parliament is next Thursday.

Stages of a bill

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Another restriction is that not more than one stage of a Bill is to be taken at the same sitting, except with the leave of the House.

The only exemption to these caveats is the Consolidated Fund Bill, an Appropriation Bill or a Supplementary Appropriation Bill, that have a maturity period of seven days.

But the Standing Orders also stipulate that by a resolution of the House, maturity period of a Bill can be shortened and permission granted, to allow the draft law to be rushed through the legislative stages in a sitting.

This was the case with the Bills that entrenched the PNU/ODM power sharing agreement, for which MPs spent one afternoon to pass the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill No 1, 2008 and the National Accord and Reconciliation Bill.

But the PNU MP is optimistic that with political goodwill, the Bill, alongside an amendment to the Constitution of Kenya Review Act 2008 to refer the proposed constitution to the multi-sectoral reference group for arbitration, is still possible.

He urges that the Bill be accorded the same treatment extended to the National Accord Bills.

"If Parliament managed in record time to pass the National Accord that brought in the coalition government, why is it difficult for MPs to amend the law to avoid a repeat of 2005?" he asked.

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