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Speaker saves gender bill and sets new vote

Members of Parliament consult after they failed to pass Two Third Gender rule at Parliament on Wednesday 27/04/16. PHOTO.BONIFACE OKENDO

Speaker Justin Muturi yesterday rescued an amendment of the Constitution to get more women into Parliament.

This is after he set another date for the same vote to be done next Thursday.

The Speaker made the decision after the MPs behind the Bill failed to meet the two-thirds threshold required to amend the supreme law.

By rejecting the Bill, the MPs - the 26 who voted No were from both coalitions - defied President Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila Odinga who had earlier lobbied the lawmakers to pass the bill.

The Speaker bent some of the House rules – he allowed manual voting for MPs without their electronic cards and declined to punish those who were in the House and did not vote or record their abstention.

He stretched other rules when he increased lobbying time by an extra 20 minutes, and liberally used his discretion to allow as many MPs to get into the House to vote for the Constitution of Kenya (amendment) Bill. But when the matter was put to vote, still the numbers for the amendment to implement the gender rule fell short.

Only 195 MPs voted for it, against a required minimum of 233 MPs; 28 MPs rejected it, and two MPs, Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem) and Alois Lentoimaga (Samburu North), abstained from the vote.

At least 24 MPs were in the House, but they never bothered to either vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ or to even abstain.

The Speaker said he could not punish them because it would have meant throwing them out of the House and in effect reducing the numbers below the required quorum of 233.

Kenya Women Parliamentarians Association chairperson Cecily Mbarire (Runyenjes) and The National Alliance national chairman Johnson Sakaja (nominated) questioned the validity of the vote and plead with the Speaker to set another date for the vote. Former women MPs Phoebe Asiyo, Julia Ojiambo and Linah Jebii Kilimo watched the proceedings from special diplomatic booths.

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