Gov’t gazettes controversial election laws

Gov't gazettes controversial election laws
Senator Fatuma Dullo (left) and Baringo MP William Cheptumo,members of the joint select committee on electoral related laws at County Hall during the public hearings

The controversial Election Amendment Bill (2017) has now become law after being gazetted by the government.

President Uhuru Kenyatta failed to assent to it or reject it after it was forward to him by Parliament. The Constitution dictates that if the President fails to assent to a Bill after 14 days or revert it to Parliament with recommended suggestions, then it becomes law.

The bill was gazetted on Thursday, November 2, three weeks after the Senate approved the amendments passed by the National Assembly.

It states: “The Bill may be cited as the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2017 and shall come into force upon publication of the Gazette.”

Jubilee legislators who backed the amendments overwhelmingly said the Bill is meant to seal legal loopholes that led to the nullification of President Kenyatta’s win in the August 8 presidential election.

One of the key provisions of the Bill is a clause that would render it impossible for the Supreme Court to nullify results of a presidential election based on minor discrepancies.

“A court shall not declare an election void for non-compliance with any written law relating to that election if it appears that the non-compliance did not substantially affect the results of the election,” states the the amended law.

Also in the Bill is a clause that redefines the definition of the chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

“A chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission means the chairperson of the commission appointed in accordance with article 250 (2) of the constitution or the vice chairperson or a member of the commission while discharging the functions of the chairperson,” states the Bill.

The Bill will, however, apply to future elections.

President Kenyatta

Shortly after being declared the winner of the October 26 repeat presidential election by IEBC on October 30, President Kenyatta said he did not assent to the Bill because aggrieved parties said he would be changing the rules of the game in the middle of the match.

“When the Bill was brought to me for signature, I was compelled by my conscience to go back to the origins of law. If an Act of Parliament is a direct expression of the will of the people, were the people happy with this law?” asked President Kenyatta.

This was in contrast to his rhetoric during campaigns when he said he would sign the Bill into law as soon as it was passed by Parliament.

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Story By Wahome Gitonga
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