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Kenya gender equity bill flops



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The Kenya National Assembly Wednesday deferred vote on gender equity bill to 2019 after the House failed to raise the numbers to pass it.

The suspension followed a request by Majority Leader Duale during the debate attended by opposition chiefs Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka.

Mr Duale told Speaker Justin Muturi that the House did not have 233 members required to support the proposed law to address Kenya’s gender inequality in political representation.

Minority Leader John Mbadi supported Mr Duale’s request, saying it would give MPs time to lobby their colleagues to back the bill.

But some members opposed the request, saying they had spent the whole month discussing and lobbying their colleagues to support the bill, and that the deferment was unnecessary.

Minority Whip Junet Mohamed asked Mr Muturi to suspend the debate for 10 minutes to allow him and others time to lobby their colleagues to enter the House.

His request revealed that while the House had failed to raise the quorum, some MPs, who were within the precincts of Parliament, had deliberately snubbed the debate.

Homa Bay County Woman Representative Gladys Wanga supported Mr Junet and asked the speaker to order a headcount to establish the number of MPs present.

At the beginning of the debate, 212 members were in the chambers. A few minutes into the debate, the number dropped to 207.

In the end, Mr Muturi ruled that the bill be stood down for reply and voting by the House Business Committee (HBC).

The committee will meet next Tuesday to determine when the matter will be considered again.

Mr Muturi said the matter was serious and hence the need for the HBC meeting.

Normally, before voting on a bill of such magnitude, members are whipped in their respective parliamentary group meetings.

For the bill to sail through, the support of the ruling Jubilee party, the largest in the House, is crucial because it requires two-thirds majority, or at least 233 of the 349 MPs to sail through as contemplated under Article 256 of the Constitution.

Failure to reach that threshold would mean that the bill is negatived, therefore lost, cannot progress to the next level and can only be reintroduced in the House after six months.

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