President Uhuru set to sign controversial election law

NASA MPs speaking on Election Laws Amendments on 10/10/17. Photo Moses Omusula

Senate approved the controversial changes to electoral laws on Thursday, clearing the path for the President to sign them into law.

The Jubilee-controlled House passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017, a day after it was endorsed by the National Assembly.

According to parliamentary standing orders, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi is expected to forward the bill to President Uhuru Kenyatta within seven days.

This means that by the time Kenyans elect their next president on October 26, the new law could be in force.

The proposed law was one of the reasons Opposition chief Raila Odinga cited when he announced his withdrawal from the presidential race earlier this week.

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Third reading

Just as was the case in the National Assembly, the senators yesterday rushed through the third reading of the bill (committee stage) as the august House went on recess for 25 days ahead of the repeat poll.

Opposition MPs boycotted the sessions in both Houses. The changes include a provision that if only one candidate is nominated for presidential election, that candidate is automatically declared president-elect.

Another permits the vice chairperson or a commissioner elected by fellow commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to declare presidential results in the absence of the chairperson.

The law only empowered the chairperson but Jubilee Party argued there should not be a vacuum if the chairperson is not available. Yesterday, Jubilee senators lauded the proposed law, saying it would cure any gap and ensure there is no confusion or a window to nullify presidential results as was the case with the August 8 election.

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