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Churches: Failure by Senate to vote gender bill sign of impunity

By Moses Nyamori | August 25th 2016 at 12:23:16 GMT +0300

National Council of Churches of Kenya Secretary General Canon Peter Karanja.

NAIROBI: Church leaders have castigated senators for failing to take vote on the two-third gender rule terming it a sign of impunity by the "male-dominated Parliament".

The leaders also took a swipe at female senators for skipping the Wednesday morning session. 

On Wednesday, the bill by nominated Senator Judith Sijeny suffered yet another blow due to lack of quorum.

The church leaders expressed their disappointment over what they termed as casualness by which Parliament was handling the matter.

"We are very disappointed that in every instance there has never been sufficient numbers marshaled to pass the law. This is a statement of the impunity of the predominantly male parliament that appear not to have understood that the constitution does not provide us with choice on the matter but compels compliance for constitution providing sanctions in the event of non-compliance," said National Council of Churches of Kenya Secretary General Canon Peter Karanja.

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Court had given Parliament up to this Saturday, August 27, as the deadline for the enactment of the bill.

And the religious leaders have warned that Parliament risk dissolution for breaching the set constitutional deadline.

"It is very sad that after given a year by the court in which to pass the law, the deadline is about to be breached because the law has not been passed," he added.

Both the National Assembly and the Senate could be declared unconstitutional and dissolved for failing to implement the constitutional requirement.

Of the 18 nominated female senators in the country, only 6 attended the morning sessions.

Senator Hassan Omar explained that the fact that nominated senators do not take vote on county governments’ mattes could have informed their decision to stay away.

"It will have to wait until the Senate set a date to vote for it, which cannot be before Friday. It is very possible that somebody can go to court," said Omar.

"On matters concerning counties only elected senators can vote not nominated. So based on that most of them when it comes to voting they don't attend because most occasions they don't vote. It is just to make it clear to them so that they can attend the next session," said Omar.

But the religious leaders said it was reckless for female senators to stay away and expect men to champion for their interests in their absence.

While acknowledging the constitutional crisis the country is staring at, Omar said it was impossible for Senate and National Assembly to beat the deadline set by the court, which is just two days away.

The church leaders have also proposed a raft of other measures they want be taken to achieve the gender balance.

Among them, the leaders want political parties forced to ensure that a third of candidates they nominate in their strongholds are women.

They also want amendment to the law to peg proportion of funding for political parties to be pegged on the number of women elected on the party ticket.

The church is also seeking for an amendment to limit the number of terms a nominated MP can serve to two terms.

Another proposal is for government through the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender to establish a gender civic education programme that should be rolled out across the country.


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