Constitution Amendment Bill is admissible - Marende
By Roseleen Nzioka
House Speaker Kenneth Marende has put to rest the debate on the admissibility of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2011.
Marende directed Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo to introduce the Bill in Parliament on Wednesday.
Marende ruled that the Bill would be brought to the House for the First Reading on Wednesday following a request by Mutula who had argued that it would make no sense for him to be asked to withdraw a Bill that was not yet before the House.
Mutula had argued that it would not make sense for the Speaker to decline the First Reading since he (Speaker) had already approved the Bill prior to it being sent to the House Business Committee.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Marende told Parliament that a Cabinet minister was in order to initiate and publish a Bill to amend the Constitution. This he said was because a minister who was also a member of parliament had leeway to introduce such a Bill. House Speaker Kenneth Marende. Photo: File/Standard
House Speaker Kenneth Marende. Photo: File/Standard
The Speaker based his ruling on Points of Order raised by MPs concerning the heated debate about whether the Constitution bars introduction of a bill to amend it; whether introducing the Bill would be sub judice since a case to determine the election date was already in court; whether adequate consensus was built prior to the publication of the bill; and whether a cabinet minister had authority to introduce a Bill to amend the Constitution.
Marende said Mutula was not in breach of any of the rules guiding the publication of a Bill. Noting that there was inadequate consensus prior to and after publication of the said Bill, Marende advised Mutula to be aware of this requirement.
Marende also ruled that there was no fear of sub judice as the legislative mandate would not interfere with the High Court ruling on the election date. He said the two arms of government were addressing different issues. He said the High Court’s mandate was to interpret the Constitution regarding the date for the next general election while the House would deliberate a Bill on the amendment of the Constitution.
Citing several local and international examples regarding the amendment of constitutions, Marende said the Constitution does not bar the introduction of an amendment Bill that addresses several matters in the same Bill. He observed that both a single Bill or an omnibus Bill is fraught with challenges.
After the ruling Marende allowed limited debate on the issue as well as a response from Mutula. The Speaker said he would give further direction on Wednesday.
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