Kibaki stops MPs from watering down poll law - kenyadetails
President Mwai Kibaki

President Kibaki has rejected a controversial Bill that would have allowed MPs to change parties without losing their seats.The President also gave politicians without university education, including at least 80 MPs, a reprieve when he rejected the Bill requiring that those seeking elective positions in the Senate and Parliament must have degrees.


President Kibaki explained that he could not sign the Statue Law Miscellaneous (Amendment) Bill because of pending court cases.


Earlier, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka supported MPs in their fight to drop the degree requirement in the Elections Act which, they said, would marginalise a majority of Kenyans without university education.


However, the two opposed changes to the Political Parties Act that allowed party-hopping.


The President, who received the Bill on Monday morning after arriving from Brazil, held a quick meeting with Attorney General Githu Muigai and acting Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia.


Case in court


More than 80 MPs who could have been locked out by the degree requirement petitioned the President not to assent to the law. Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama, one of those to have been affected, filed a case in court seeking to stop the President from signing the Bill.


On Monday, President Kibaki cited this case as a reason to reject the Bill.“The petition is still pending in court. In keeping with the doctrine of the Separation of Powers, matters which are before the Court should not be the subject of legislation by the National Assembly,” he said.


He then recommended that the proposed amendment be deleted from the Bill.


On the Political Parties Act which sought to allow party-hoping, the President reminded MPs that some of their colleagues were facing cases in court over shifting allegiance.


They include Mr Ephraim Maina (Safina) and Gidion Mbuvi (Narc Kenya).


Consequently, he suggested that ‘‘the proposed subsection (1A) be deleted from the Bill’’.


Parliament will now have to consider the President’s memorandum which they can either reject or approve.


Lands minister James Orengo, who had said he would write to the President in protest, welcomed the decision and said it safeguarded democracy.


“This is not about numbers in Parliament. It is about what is right and the two principals have done the correct thing,” he said.


The Friends of Raila (Fora) lobby group had moved to court to block the amendments.


In its petition to Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi, Fora argued that the Constitution was under threat from “a rogue Parliament intent on robbing Peter to pay Paul.”


And speaking after arriving from a one-week visit to Russia, Mr Odinga said he had asked President Kibaki to return the Bill to Parliament.


The degrees requirement, he said, would lock out many Kenyans from leadership because local institutions were “still incapable of catering for the vast majority of Kenyans”.


Mr Musyoka chaired a Wiper Democratic Movement NEC meeting, which opposed the degree requirement.


“If you insist on degrees, what will happen to those aspiring to be women’s representatives in such places as Mandera and Wajir?” party secretary-general Mutula Kilonzo asked.


But Mr Odinga said allowing party hopping would be counter-productive to the quest to tackle “political indiscipline”.


He said it would subvert the democratic will of the electorate and ‘‘subjugate it to the narrow and selfish whims of politicians.” Mr Odinga said.


Meanwhile, the civil society walked to the office of the President to give a petition against the passing of the amendments. The petition said Parliament should not make biased decisions to favour themselves.


“The various amendments breach the letter, purpose and spirit of the Constitution” said Ms Atsango Chesoni, executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission.



The petition states the society opposes Amendments on the Political Parties Act to allow persons standing for elective office to change parties severally up until two months to the date of the general election.


“This party-hopping culture is like that of a grasshopper, which when you follow, you will find it has no nest. It has to be stopped,” Mr Kilonzo said.


Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli and retired Catholic Bishop John Njenga called on President Kibaki to reject the amendments contained in the Miscellaneous Bill 2012. (READ: Reject law changes, Kibaki urged)


Bishop Njenga said the amendments to the electoral law are intended to suit the whims of the legislators in total disregard of the wishes of Kenyans who overwhelmingly passed the Constitution while Mr Atwoli vowed to mobilise workers to reject them.


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