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MPs receive another petition to change 2010 Constitution

By Roselyne Obala | April 20th 2018

Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael (left) with Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia  addressing the press in Ol Kalou town yesterday. They dismissed calls for constitutional amendments to create the positions of a prime minister and two deputies. [Photo/Standard]

Another petition to change the Constitution was presented to the National Assembly yesterday.

The petition filed by Ezekiel Njeru Namu, from Embu, adds another piece to the emerging 'change-the-Constitution' push from within and without the House

Mr Namu's petition was read to the House yesterday by Speaker Justin Muturi.

In his petition, Namu wants the presidential term reduced from five to four years, MPs to serve for six years, and senators seven years.

The petitioner also wants county assemblies to use local languages in their deliberations.

In addition, he wants MPs to increase the number of constituencies from 290 to 300 and scrap academic qualifications for lawmakers and members of county assemblies.

The petition comes less than 24 hours after another petitioner wrote to the National Assembly seeking changes to set the age limit for presidential candidates at 70.

The petition, by a Mohammed Sheikh from Wajir, generated heated debate in the House, with members of Parliament expressing concern that it was tailored to bar Opposition leader Raila Odinga from vying for the top seat in 2022.

Increasing pressure

The petitions add to the calls to amend the Constitution both from within and without the House.

From within, a bill is sponsored by Tiaty MP Kassait Kamket seeks to introduce a powerful post of prime minister and set a one, seven-year-term for the presidency.

Previous initiatives to amend the Constitution since its promulgation in 2010 have not been successful.

The latest petition, if successful, would, like the others before it, lead to a referendum since it proposes radical amendments to various sections of the Constitution.

Namu seeks to amend several articles of the Constitution and statutes touching on the presidency, the National and county assemblies, and the Senate.

The petition, to be considered by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, is expected to generate national debate for its radical proposals, including the abolition of the position of MCAs nominated on the basis of gender.

Thoughtful consideration

“You will agree with me that the prayers sought by the petitioner require thoughtful consideration as they propose to fundamentally alter the architecture of our Constitution,” said the Speaker before referring the petition to the committee.

The committee, chaired by Baringo North MP William Cheptumo, will study the petition, hold sessions with the petitioner on his proposals, and report its findings to the Speaker and the House.

“The committee should undertake to engage the petitioner and may thereafter introduce necessary Bills for consideration by this House, in respect to the prayers sought by him,” directed Mr Muturi.

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