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New Bill spells doom for graft suspects eyeing seats in 2022 elections

NATIONAL
By Moses Nyamori | September 28th 2021

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Opiyo Wandayi. [David Njaaga, Standard]

A host of MCAs, MPs and governors as well as individuals seeking to make political debut risk being disqualified from contesting in the next elections should the proposed Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021 gets the nod of the National Assembly.

Another Bill – The Leadership and Integrity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 – also seeks to have graft suspects hounded out of office once charged in court.

The two Bills that are being fronted by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) have since been approved by Speaker Justin Muturi and are set to be committed before Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) for consideration.

According to the Elections (Amendments) Bill, 2021, individuals facing crimes related to corruption will be disqualified from running for political office.

Wandayi seeks to amend Section 25 of No.24 of the Elections Act, 2011 to provide by that an individual that has been ‘formally charged in a court of law for an offence related to corruption or economic crimes and the case has not been finalised’ be disqualified from contesting for political seat.

“The principal object of this Bill is to amend the Elections Act, 2011, to provide that persons facing corruption charges may be disqualified from being nominated as a candidate for the office of President, Member of Parliament and Member of a County Assembly,” the proposed Bill states.

The Leadership and Integrity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 proposes to have elected and appointed state officers stopped from discharging their mandate once they are formally charged.

The proposal implies that a state officer facing corruption-related charges will have to stay out of office until their cases are determined. This proposal could, however, paralyse service delivery in counties and constituencies due to slow dispensation of corruption cases.

“A state officer who is formally charged in a court of law for an offence related to corruption shall cease to perform the functions of the office pending finalisation of the court case,” states the Bill.

“The principal object of this Bill is to amend the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012, to provide for the temporary suspension of a state officer or public officer who has been formally charged for corruption or other serious crimes related to corruption, to step aside,” it states.

In a press conference yesterday, Wandayi expressed confidence that the proposed amendments will sail through.

He said majority of lawmakers in the bicameral Parliament are behind the latest push to slay the dragon of corruption.

“The thrust of the proposed amendments, and which I trust will successfully go through the requisite stages and eventually sail through in the National Assembly, is to ensure temporary suspension of a state officer (elected or appointed) who has been formally charged for corruption or other crimes related to corruption,” said Wandayi.

He explained that such officers will be required to relinquish office, pending clearance by the courts.

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