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Anxiety as parties whip up MPs to vote for Gender Bill

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MPs will today endorse or reject a Bill that seeks to increase the number of women representation in Parliament – Senate and National Assembly.

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2018 sponsored by Majority leader Aden Duale seeks to ensure that the two Houses conform with the Constitution by achieving the two-thirds gender principle.

Duale yesterday said MPs will take a vote today as he had communicated to the House last week.

“We are voting tomorrow on the Bill. Who said we are going to reschedule the voting? We will pass it as it is,” he said.

Last Friday, Duale met President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, before accompanying Deputy President William Ruto to a fundraiser in Garissa county. Details of the meeting remain unknown.

Sources privy to the matter said various political parties could hold separate parliamentary group meetings to whip their MPs before the vote takes place.

The Bill requires the support of 233 MPs (two thirds of members) to pass. If it sails through the floor of the House and is signed by the President, it will be effective after the 2022 General Election.

Read: Uhuru, Raila summon MPs over gender Bill

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Article 81 of the Constitution requires that not more than two-thirds of members of elective public bodies be of the same gender. The special seats – according to the proposed law – are expected to ensure the bicameral House complies with the two-thirds gender rule after 20 years.

“A sunset clause of 20 years is included in the amendment with an option for extension for one further fixed period of 10 years as it is expected that by that time, enormous gains will have been made with regard to gender parity in elected MPs,” the Bill reads.

A similar Bill flopped in the previous Parliament after male lawmakers ganged up to defeat the motion by walking out. The current Bill also seeks to limit the nomination of a person to Parliament or county assemblies to two terms.

Uhuru, Ruto, ODM party leader Raila Odinga and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka have rallied MPs to pass the Bill. Kenya Women Parliamentary Association met party leaders, Kenya Editors Guild, fellow legislators and civil society to drum up support for the Bill.

Also Read: Day of reckoning as more MPs oppose two-thirds gender Bill

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