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Senators trash proposal to lock them out of race

By Standard Team | May 10th 2016

Senators have reacted angrily to a recommendation by a National Assembly committee that seeks to bar them from contesting for governorship in the next General Election.

They described the proposal in a report tabled in the House by the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC), as one made out of ignorance. For the senators to be blocked from vying for the post in a subsequent election, as recommended by the committee, they said, it would require a constitutional amendment.

The contentious recommendation states: “The committee holds the view that there is need to bar senators from participating in gubernatorial elections in the term following that which they would be serving as senators.”

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen dismissed the move as a statement founded on ignorance of the Constitution.

“What the MPs did was idle talk whose endgame is merely to discredit the Senate without having the constitutional mechanism of implementing the proposal,” said the Elgeyo Marakwet legislator.

He added: “The Constitution is clear on who is barred from running for an elective post and it is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials who are barred for five years tafter which they are allowed to contest.”

Mr Murkomen said that if MPs were envious and fearful of senators being governors after the next elections, then the only way for them to deal with that was to present themselves as candidates in the polls.

Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar said the decision was ill-motivated and alleged some MPs could be working in cahoots with governors to shield them from stiff competition from senators.

“This is a mere political statement that is not likely to realise constitutional amendment. An amendment will either be through a referendum or must secure two-thirds support from both Houses of Parliament. It was made out of ignorance,” Mr Omar said.

Omar, who wants to unseat Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, said nobody could bar senators or even members of county assembly from unseating governors and advised the committee to concentrate on its mandate of implementing the Constitution.

“It is evident some of the MPs are cronies of governors, but I want to tell them that their chances of securing amendments to bar senators from challenging governors are nil. I rule out the possibilities of achieving such changes,” he added.

Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o who is working to dislodge Governor Jack Ranguma said senators would vie as ordinary Kenyans since Parliament would have been dissolved.

 Elective positions

“Someone should inform the MPs to stop wasting time. Parliament will be dissolved before people present their papers to the IEBC for various elective positions. So at this time we will not be holding senatorial positions to interfere with the purported oversight role,” Mr Nyong’o said.

Uasin Gishu Senator Isaac Melly said every Kenyan is free to contest any political seat once they are declared vacant. He said there should be no restrictions because every elective position is guaranteed in the Constitution.

“All elective positions are the creation of the Constitution and anyone can contest when seats are declared vacant,” said Mr Melly.

He said not all senators were eyeing gubernatorial positions and that the issue should not be generalised.

— Reporting by Patrick Beja, Kevine Omollo and Alex Wakhisi

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