Parliament yesterday failed to achieve the quorum required to vote for the Gender Bill.
Majority leader Aden Duale requested for the postponement of the vote to February next year. The House will adjourn next Thursday for the long recess.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga had urged MPs to endorse it.
A record 136 MPs stayed away from the chamber in a clear protest against creating more seats for women to meet the constitutional two-thirds requirement.
Apart from Migori woman representative Pamela Odhiambo, who is hospitalised after last month’s road accident in which her bodyguard died, the rest of the absent MPs could not be accounted for.
During the afternoon session, only 212 of the 349 MPs clocked into the chamber.
Raila and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka sat in the speaker’s gallery as the number of legislators further dropped to 207.
At least 233 MPs were required to be present and support the Bill for it to pass.
The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2018, sponsored by Duale seeks to ensure the two Houses conform to the Constitution by achieving the two-thirds gender principle.
Duale told the House the postponement would facilitate further lobbying across the political divide.
“If we take the option of deferring it today, we will save it and remain with the voting in the Second Reading, committee of the whole House and the Third Reading. These three steps can be entered in February next year, having saved the Bill by way of deferment,” he said.
Duale said the House Business Committee, chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi, had met on Tuesday night and the better part of yesterday morning and opted to shelve the vote on the Bill.
“The claim that this Bill will lapse if we don’t conclude it today does not hold any water. There are those of us who want to throw the baby out with the bathwater but the parliamentary procedures and process allow us as leaders to think out of the box,” the Garissa Town MP said.
“As Leader of Majority, I don’t want history to judge me harshly ... It doesn’t require rocket science to establish that we are not 233 members.” Duale said Standing Order 141 ( 2 ) (b) stipulates that the Bill will lapse in December 2019.
But Minority Whip Junet Mohamed and Homa Bay woman representative Gladys Wanga requested Muturi to allow voting to proceed.
“This Bill has held Parliament hostage for one month. I am seeking your indulgence Mr Speaker even if you suspend the House for 10 minutes so we get more members from outside,” Junet said.
Minority leader John Mbadi defended Duale saying, “If the motion is defeated by the mere fact that we cannot get the threshold, then it will take us more time. I urge that we let the Leader of Majority get his way and we withdraw the motion before us.”
He was supported by Dennitah Ghati (nominated), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Olago Aluoch (Kisumu West) and Esther Passaris (Nairobi woman rep).
“I urge the Majority leader to speak to the President to engage some budget to sensitise the public on gender,” Passaris said.
Muturi ruled that the House Business Committee will meet on Tuesday next week to decide when next the Bill will appear on the Order Paper.
Mbadi, who is the ODM chairman, had earlier led a group of MPs in sensitising their members to turn up for the voting session.