Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kenya Elections : MPs rule out August 2012 poll date

But, even as they ruled out the August poll date, they were not clear on when the next polls will be held, with some of them saying December 2012 while the others insisted it will have to be "sometime in March 2013".

The MPs cited Clause 10 of the Sixth Schedule of the new Constitution to back their position, saying the term for the current Parliament had been "saved".

The clause reads: "The National Assembly existing immediately before the effective date shall continue as the National Assembly for the purposes of this Constitution for its unexpired term."

"That unexpired term cannot have any other meaning," Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo told the Nation at the sidelines of a meeting at the Kenya Institute of Administration Tuesday.

The minister said that as long as the coalition government continued to operate, then Parliament's mandate will hold until the next elections in December, and the August poll date will only apply to the next Parliament.

"We can have the elections in December," said Mr Kilonzo. He said the old Constitution still applied and that's why they have to be in office until December 2012.

Mr Abdikadir Mohammed, the chairman of Parliament's Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, said it "wouldn't make sense" to have the elections in August 2012, because that will "shorten" the implementation period.

Mr Mohammed told the Nation that if the August 2012 poll-date was to apply, then Parliament will have to dissolve itself in May to give room –the mandatory 60 days—within which the electoral commission has to prepare and conduct elections.

However, like the Justice minister, Mr Mohammed too cited the "unexpired term" tag in the transition and consequential clauses of the Constitution to say that the election date has to be in December 2012.

"The date for the next elections," Mr Mohammed said, "has to be exactly five years from the date of the last election, and that is December 2012".

He said the heavy schedule in setting up institutions, laws and infrastructure for the new dispensation, needed time, and that's why the 10th Parliament – the current one — will not dissolve itself in May 2012.

"We have so much on our plate, especially the work to do with counties and devolution. It is a lot and we need time," said Mr Mohammed.
While the powers of the current Parliament are extended until the next elections, the President's powers to dissolve Parliament –the very powers that he held in the old Constitution—are not in the new Constitution.

Mr Ababu Namwamba, the chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, also ruled out the August poll date, but then explained the "unexpired term" to mean that the MPs have to be in Parliament until January 15, 2013 –that's the day they were sworn in.
Mr Namwamba's interpretation means that the next elections will come up on or before March 2013, taking into account the 60-day time limit for the electoral body to organize the poll.

However, the Justice Minister was categorical: "Those saying August 2012 and those saying March 2013 are all wrong. The polls have to come in December. I showed them this Clause (10 of the Sixth Schedule) and I think they agreed with me that December is the date. We can't have them (the polls) in 2013. That will be more than five years."

The two-day retreat ended with MPs agreed that their term will last until December 2012. They also agreed that all public officers will have to be vetted, regardless of whether they were elected by professional bodies or nominated by the President and the Prime Minister.

"We'll vet everyone, whether they are elected by a few hundred professionals or nominated by the President. Because in any case, the President draws his mandate from the votes of close to four million Kenyans. So really, there shouldn't be a difference in the way we treat the nominees," Mr Namwamba told the Nation.

The House team pledged to stick to the Constitutional deadlines and put in place laws to quickly roll out the new Constitution.
Mr Mohammed, the chair of the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, said that MPs will agree based on the need --whether to take their December recess and come back early (before March) from the recess.

The retreat ended with MPs promising to uphold the spirit of the Constitution --that of upholding transparency in all Public appointments.



credit : http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/MPs rule out August 2012 poll date/-/1064/1050014/-/u522gdz/-/

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