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Party hopping clause likely to delay IEBC reforms

By Roselyne Obala | August 31st 2016 at 08:22:03 GMT +0300

Parliamentary Joint Committee on IEBC Kindiki Kithure, Kiraitu Murungi, Moses Wetangula, James Orengo, and Aden Duale after endorsing their report at parliament building on 18/08/16 [PHOTO:MOSES OMUSULA/Standard]

The standoff in Parliament on party hopping is likely to derail the speedy passage of two electoral reform Bills.

The Bills are to pave way for the recruitment of the new poll commissioners.

According to the joint Parliamentary Select Committee that investigated the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the new commissioners should be in office by September 30.

The deadline is now at risk of being violated after members of the National Assembly amended the report to expunge a clause barring party hopping after the Senate had passed it without amendments.

Annexed in the report are the Election Offences Bill, 2016, and the Election Law (amendment) Bill, 2016, that detail the road map to the recruitment of the commissioners.

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Following the action by the MPs, senators have insisted that such a move can only be effected with the concurrence of both Houses.

The Senate is on recess until September 19 and the National Assembly is scheduled to proceed on vacation on Thursday.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has, however, downplayed any cause for alarm, saying the report was not binding like the Bills.

"The report is a product of deliberations to settle political dispute and give impetus to resolving the IEBC impasse. It is a political statement. What is of interest are the Bills. The report will be handled by the House Committee on Implementation," said Mr Muturi.

He added: "Article 85 of the Constitution also gives provision on party hopping. The MPs have 30 days to party-hop before the General Election. Let them calculate 30 days backwards from August 8, 2017."

Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang'ula (Bungoma) and his Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo Jnr have differed, arguing that since the House motion to set up the select committee was not amended, the report, too, should not be amended.

"The correct procedure is that the National Assembly should seek concurrence with the Senate on the report. The Bills are resolution of the report. The Senate should convene for a special sitting to remove the clause," said Mr Wetang'ula.

Mr Kilonzo Jnr added: "This is a joint committee report though there are no clear rules as per the Standing Orders, it cannot appear disjointed. The Bills will be moved and positions taken."

Constitutional expert Kamotho Waiganjo backed Speaker Muturi, stressing that the way out of the stalemate was the Bills.

"We anticipated differences in opinion but that is why the law is there," he said.

IEBC joint parliamentary select committee CORD jubilee
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