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IEBC registration clerk at Madaraka primary school using the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) kit. on 22nd May 2017 [PHOTO: DAVID GICHURU]
President Uhuru Kenyatta has convened a Jubilee Party Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting this morning.
Top on the agenda will be discussing a raft of amendments to electoral laws that target the electoral commission and the Supreme Court.
The President and his party have vowed to re-look at the law to seal loopholes that led to the nullification of his victory in the August 8 polls.
Although, Jubilee has yet to identify specific sections or clauses of the targeted laws, the ruling party says its lawyers were going through various statutes to come up with proposed amendments.
Jubilee wants the law to be clear what a complementary system of identifying voters and result transmission entails.
The Elections Laws Amendment Act, 2016, requires that the electoral commission shall put in place a complementary mechanism for identification of voters and transmission of election results that is simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable, and transparent to ensure that the commission complies with the provisions of Article 38 of the Constitution.
This, Jubilee says, is an ambiguity that contributed to the nullification of the August 8 results by the Supreme Court.
Leaders of Majority Aden Duale (National Assembly) and Kipchumba Murkomen (Senate) yesterday affirmed that they wanted the law to be clear on what a complementary system entails.
“Obviously the voting system is manual and thus there should be no ambiguity on what the complementary system is; it should be manual. What we want to look at is how to facilitate that manual system and how for instance will results be manually transmitted to the national tallying centre,” Murkomen said.
Duale added: “Our legal team is drafting the amendments and I will get the draft in the evening. The draft will be discussed in tomorrow’s PG before it is tabled in the House.”
Interviews with MPs, however, gave a glimpse on the areas targeted for amendment. These include having presiding officers take results to constituency tallying centres for verification and electronic transmission only after tabulation in Form 34(b).
Also targeted are changes to ensure decisions by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Supreme Court are passed by a two-thirds majority.
The electoral commission chairman, Wafula Chebukati, has unilaterally made directions that have been resisted by fellow commissioners in the past. One such decision was the formation of a project team to oversee the October 26 repeat poll and the unsuccessful attempt to suspend Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba.
A proposal to require that critical decisions by the Supreme Court are made by a two-thirds vote appear to have been prompted by the 4-2 decision to nullify the election of Uhuru following a successful petition by Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Another proposal targets the powers and qualifications of the IEBC leadership so that any other member of the commission can take up the role in the absence of the chairperson.
Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny said today’s PG meeting will determine the route of the proposed changes to the electoral system.
“There are glaring issues but we have not agreed on the way forward. There are those issues that need urgency and those matters that need referendum but as for now I stand guided by the resolution of the PG,” Kutuny said.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said the party would make changes to stop presiding officers (POs) from transmitting results from the 40,883 polling stations to the national tallying centre.
Instead, the POs will now have to move to their various constituency tallying centres for result verification before they are captured in Form 34B and consequently declared by the constituency returning officer.
There are also plans to clip the powers of the IEBC chairperson and spread it to the vice chairperson. This they seek to achieve by removing the requirement that one must be a lawyer to hold the top position.
“It makes sense to have a backup because what happens if the chairperson resigns in a time like this or falls sick when he is required to declare the winner of a presidential election?” asked Kuria.
He added that other changes include making it mandatory that any decision made by the commission is supported by two-thirds of the seven commissioners.
“It should be a collective responsibility and not a one-man show,” he said.
The legislator said they will also seek to reintroduce the green book in the voting process so that the Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (KIEMS) is only used for identification but not validation of the process.
Similar sentiments were shared by Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura, who said Jubilee MPs will today review the Supreme Court ruling.
“We will also discuss how to tame plots by NASA to plunge this country into chaos,” he said.
But Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr dismissed the proposed changes as wishful. He argued that it was impossible to effect the changes before October 26 election.
“The process of legislation will take longer than one month. It should also be made clear that the powers of the IEBC chairman are in the Constitution and can’t be changed whimsically,” said Mutula.