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MPs now plot to remove two-thirds gender rule

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By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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A section of members of the National Assembly have hatched a scheme to counter calls for the enactment of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendments) Bill, 2018 which seeks to pave the way for the nomination of an additional 75 women to both the National Assembly and the Senate.

It has emerged that the MPs, mainly from Jubilee Party, have already drafted the legislative proposal to that effect and submitted it to Speaker Justin Muturi for approval.

If the Speaker determines the proposal is sound, he will forward it to the parliamentary legal office for it to be drafted into a legal document.

According to the proposal, the MPs want all elective bodies in the country exempted from the constitutional requirement of the two-thirds gender rule.

This means that the Senate, National Assembly and county assemblies will no longer have offices of nominated members.

As a result, through the proposal forwarded to the Speaker by nominated MP David Sankok, the MPs want Article 27 (8) amended by deleting the words “two-thirds of the members of elective or”.

They want the clause substituted with the words “40 per centum of the members of”. This is meant to increase the share of seats due to either gender in the appointive bodies to the ratio of 60:40.

In the memorandum of objectives, Mr Sankok says presently the two-thirds gender rule has resulted in undesired results where the persons nominated do not really represent the interests of the women and the nominations are not based on merit or competence or any known criteria.

“Elections are based on the free will of the people. Affirmative action for elective positions negates the provisions of Article 38(2) of the Constitution on political rights, which provide that every citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections based on universal suffrage and the free expression of the will of the electors for any elective position.”

On Friday, Mr Sankok said he had drafted the proposals and forwarded them to the office of the Speaker.

“Everything is with the Speaker now,” Mr Sankok said, while confirming that he had drafted the bill to protect the sovereignty of the people.

“The provision to ensure that elective bodies are subjected to gender rule has denied the people their sovereign power. The amendment seeks to return this power to the people,” he said.

Mr Sankok said the chorus to adopt the gender rule is detrimental to women because it is going to make it hard for women candidates to be elected in single member constituency.

This would then mean that the question of two-thirds gender rule will only apply in appointive positions.

Constitutional amendment bills mature for debate within 90 days after introduction.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale distanced himself from the amendment and vowed to frustrate its adoption on the floor.

Mr Duale said: “They will not get the numbers to pass it in the House. I will frustrate them.”

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