Verdict on gender rule splits MPs, top leaders

National Assembly in session

Leaders were last evening divided on the import of Chief Justice David Maraga’s advice to President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament over failure to pass the two-thirds gender rule.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi was categorical that MPs should not be blamed for the failure to enact the legislation, instead of blaming the State.

“In my considered view, it is the State that is empowered to ensure that two-thirds of members of all elective and appointive positions are not of the same gender,” Muturi said yesterday.

Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni) concurred with the Speaker, saying dissolving Parliament now is premature.

Opportunity to clean up

“Parliament was not issued with an order under Article 216 (6) before invoking sub clause 7. Senate has a Bill sponsored by myself and Deputy Chief Whip, Nominated Senator Farhiya Ali Haji, on the two-thirds gender rule,” Mutula Jnr said.

He promised to work with Haji to deliver the Bill. “The details show we have not slept on the job,” he added.

Former Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, however, called on the President to dissolve Parliament. “Mr President now therefore dissolve Parliament. Immediately!,” Murkomen said on his Twitter handle.

Former National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said a dissolution would be a serious affront to the will and sovereignty of the people exercised by Parliament on their behalf. “Article 94 (1) confers the legislative authority on parliament. A dissolution would negate this legislative authority,” Duale said.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said the CJ had read the Constitution and taken the easy way out and advised the President to dissolve the House.

“However the reality is that until there is a structure of how to ensure that a universal suffrage election results in a situation where 30 per cent of all elected leaders are of an alternate gender, it will be hard to achieve,” Wambugu said, adding that even if Parliament was dissolved and elections called, the results will be as they are today - or worse.

“And we will have to dissolve Parliament, again. Of course currently, there is the question of whether IEBC as currently constituted is equal to the task. Then we need to agree on whether we need the money for a General Election - outside the presidency,” the MP said, adding that Maraga might have given Uhuru an opportunity to clean up Parliament, and bring in a new troops.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka said the letter of the law is what Maraga has followed. “But the spirit of the Constitution at the moment does not anticipate dissolution of Parliament. The Constitution therefore can’t afford to be static. One more reason why a constitutional amendment is necessary to avoid a crisis,” Kalonzo said.

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli said it is reckless for the CJ to call for the dissolution of Parliament now.

Cause despondency

“It does not augur well for the three arms of government. It is malicious for Maraga to do this. He should instead go the President together with the Attorney General to find out the best solution to this. Parliament is not even dissolved during war,” Mr Atwoli said.

He said the President will not dissolve Parliament because there are other solutions to the problem. “This will create fear among MPs, cause despondency, just because one man has made a unilateral decision without exploring all avenues to solve the matter,” he said.

Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua called on Uhuru to follow Maraga’s advice and dissolve Parliament.

“This is a timely and long overdue decision. The law doesn’t leave room for the President not to act otherwise. He should be on the good side of the law and dissolve Parliament,” Ms Karua said.

“I am glad that finally the CJ has done this. The courts had delayed but this is timely. If there is a constitutional crisis, we will deal with it,” she added.

The Narc Kenya leader was optimistic that the President will not let down Kenyans. “He was upset when the Supreme Court nullified his election but he obeyed it and went for the second election. It is time he upheld the law so that Kenyans do not judge him otherwise,” she said.

Conservationist Dr Paula Kahumbu concurred with Karua, saying the country needs a break from male domination.

“Parliament has failed and given room to all agencies not to follow the law. We can’t progress when half of the population can’t be involved in decision-making. It is time we rectified this,” Kahumbu said

Journalist David Makali saluted Maraga for his courage. “Maraga has finally bitten the last bullet and in compliance with the Constitution and advised Uhuru to dissolve Parliament for failing to meet the constitutional threshold. I salute the CJ for the courage to make history again,” Mr Makali said.

Kenya Women Parliamentarian Association led by Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Wamuchomba welcomed Maraga’s decision saying there has been lack of political goodwill to enact the gender rule.

“From the presidency, political leadership to Parliament, there has been no goodwill for this law. As Kewopa, we have done everything within our powers to rally the support of legislators but apparently, we have not been supported in the cause. Parliament is the state organ tasked with this responsibility and it cannot escape blame.”

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo said she supports the CJ’s advice to the President to dissolve Parliament.

“I support Maraga. Ten years later the only provisions of the Constitution that remains unimplemented is the two-thirds gender rule,” Homa Bay Women Rep Gladys Wanga said.

National Gender Commission and Equality Commissioner Priscilla Nyokabi said a meeting of women leaders this morning will evaluate the decision.

Nyokabi said Parliament should seize the moment and do the right thing. “We have done enough talking,” she said.

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