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Why some Kenyan senators snubbed crucial Election Laws vote

By Roselyne Obala | January 7th 2017
Senate Assembly Speaker Ekwee Ethuro

As Government and Opposition leaders trade barbs over passage of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, questions have emerged on the whereabouts of some senators during the crucial debate and voting.

During the Senate Special Sitting on Thursday, 47 senators were expected to vote for or against the Bill on behalf of Kenyans.

However, only 36 senators cast the final vote that sealed the Bill’s fate. It now awaits the President’s signature to become law.

Although Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma) has accused Speaker Ekwee Ethuro of aiding the vote, where two nominated senators voted on behalf of substantive senators who were absent, the vote difference was still eminent.

In the Second Reading of the Bill, the senators voted 24 against 19 and the Bill sailed through to the Third Reading (a committee of the whole House).

At this stage, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr proposed deletion and amendments of a number of clauses he termed offensive, but Jubilee side trounced the proposals.

At the final vote, 26 Jubilee senators supported the Bill against CORD’s 10. CORD senators Wilfred Machage (Migori) and Henry ole Ndiema (Trans Nzoia) voted with the Jubilee side.

Kisii Senator Chris Obure, who was elected on an ODM ticket but has since defected to Jubilee Party, delegated his vote to Jubilee’s Hosea Ochwangi (nominated). This means CORD lost three votes to Jubilee.

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who is supposed to be in Jubilee, voted against the Bill, but his vote was neutralised by his West Pokot counterpart John Lonyangapuo who supported the Bill.

The 10 CORD senators who stayed on to the end and voted against the Bill were Hassan Omar (Mombasa), Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay), Mutula Jnr, Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi), David Musila (Kitui), Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu) James Orengo (Siaya), Amos Wako (Busia), Wetang’ula and Godliver Omondi for Boni Khalwale (Kakamega).

Wetang’ula has maintained that there was voter fraud when the Speaker allowed senators Lesuuda and Onchwang’i to vote without proper communication to the House.

“Sadly, the Speaker of the Senate working in conspiracy with the Jubilee leaders imported the bad manners of rigging election. He allowed rigging in the Senate,” said Wetang’ula.

Critical vote

“We did not see any proxy notification, not even a text message and this is illegal. We have engaged in malpractice as a House. Even if it’s one critical vote, it’s important and makes a difference. This is election fraud.”

Senators Kindiki and Murkomen, however, downplayed the claims, saying the two were eligible to vote as per the Constitution and the Standing Orders.

“The senators represented had delegated the role to them and informed the speaker accordingly,” said Kindiki.

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