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Two central MPs differ on leaving Nyeri out in the creation of new constituencies

By Jacinta Mutura | December 7th 2020
Kieni MP Kanini Kega. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Two Nyeri MPs have clashed over whether the county deserves more constituencies as per proposals in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). 

There are claims crafters of the BBI report omitted Nyeri from counties that deserve additional constituencies.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua argued that Kieni and Mathira deserved additional electoral units due to their populations and landmass. However, Kieni’s Kanini Kega said the county does not meet the population threshold, as required by the Constitution, to warrant creation of new constituencies.

“Residents of Nyeri County were expecting the sub-division of Kieni and Mathira constituencies. Whereas other counties were considered, Nyeri was left out,” said Gachagua.

The legislator dismissed claims the three protected constituencies in Nyeri - Tetu, Mukurwe-ini and Othaya - would be scrapped if the county got an extra electoral unit. The three are among 27 constituencies that risk being scrapped during boundaries review.

The electoral units have since been declared protected in the Constitution as they do not meet the population threshold of 133,000 people.

“We are being told counties with protected constituencies could not benefit. This is taking us for a ride and assuming we are stupid. Murang’a has been given an extra constituency yet it has two protected constituencies - Kangema and Mathioya,” Gachagua said yesterday.

Electoral units

He added: “Mombasa, too, has been given extra electoral units yet Mvita is a protected constituency. Makueni and Embu counties have protected constituencies yet they have been given extra constituencies.”

Gachagua, a critic of the BBI process, said Nyeri has been discriminated against. He said Kieni deserved an extra electoral unit as it constitutes 52 per cent of total landmass of Nyeri County.

In response, Kega said the formula used in allocating the 70 new constituencies did not favour Nyeri because it lacks the required population.

“Let’s debunk the myth that Nyeri leaders didn’t lobby enough for extra constituencies. A constituency ought to have 133,000 people. Nyeri County has 759,000 people as per the last census. Thus, Nyeri can only have six constituencies. Numbers don’t lie,” Kega said.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, Governor Mutahi Kahiga and Tetu MP James Gichuhi had said the county had to forgo the extra slots to retain the three protected constituencies. Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata had earlier said the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 also seeks to give a lifeline to protected constituencies.

Gachagua said creation of new constituencies should have been left to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021
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