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October 23, 2017

What Bill says if aspirant withdraws from race

William Cheptumo, the chairman of the select committee, consults with members Jennifer Shamala and Johnson Sakaja during public participation at County Hall, Nairobi, on October 4
William Cheptumo, the chairman of the select committee, consults with members Jennifer Shamala and Johnson Sakaja during public participation at County Hall, Nairobi, on October 4

If the contentious Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017 is enacted to law, a presidential candidate who remains in race after the withdrawal of his or her opponent will be declared President,

The Bill yesterday sailed through on the floor of the National Assembly, despite the absence of NASA lawmakers. They have vowed to snub the amendment process.

The House, chaired by Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North), approved the Bill which seeks clarity in a case where a candidate pulls out of the race.

“Where only one candidate remains he or she shall be declared President-elect without any election being held,” read Section 86 A (4) (b) of the Bill.

Joint Parliamentary Committee chairman William Cheptumo (Baringo North) said the amendments will guide the October 26 fresh presidential election, to ensure a free and fair poll devoid of malpractices.

The MPs, however, erased Section 86 A (2) of the original Act, touching on the candidates who should participate in the presidential petition pursuant to Article 140 (3).

Cheptumo said the laws are meant for prosperity, saying theyare not meant to assist any candidate in the  forthcoming poll.
The Bill was supported by Majority Leader Aden Duale (Garrisa Town) and MPs Swarup Ranjan (Kesses), John Wakuke among others.

They said it will seal loopholes cited by the Supreme Court when it nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta's victory on September 1.

In what appeared to be bowing to mounting pressure from foreign envoys, religious leaders and the civil society, Jubilee dropped a clause that could have allowed non-lawyers to chair the electoral agency.

The select committee on amendments to election laws has also dropped a clause delegating some of the chairman's powers to the vice chair or other IEBC commissioners.

Also dropped was a clause that sought to reduce the quorum at the commission from five to three.

The MPs have also dropped proposed changes to qualifications of the electoral agency's chair, a post currently held by Wafula Chebukati.

The Bill is now before Senate and is expected to be assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta before the end of the week.

The Bill highlights several other critical changes to the election laws prior to the fresh election.
It states that in case the electoral agency's chairperson is absent, the vice-chairperson can assume his or her powers and responsibilities accordingly until a new chairperson is appointed.

But the Bill also states: “In the absence of the chairperson and the vice-chairperson, members of the Commission shall elect from amongst themselves one of their number to act as the chairperson and exercise the powers and responsibilities of the chairperson until such time that another chairperson shall be appointed”.

The Bill also seek to allow the manually transmitted results to prevail in case there is a discrepancy between those transmitted electronically and manually.

It also states that any failure to transmit or publish the election results in an electronic format shall not invalidate the results as announced and declared by the respective presiding and returning officers at the polling station and constituency tallying centre.

The Supreme Court, on September 1, nullified the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta's victory after the August 8 General Election.

Last week, the committee received inputs from stakeholders and several individuals regarding the election law changes.


Ends

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