New era beckons as Bill proposes tougher laws on elections



The disqualification of presidential candidates, six-year imprisonment for errant election officials and public officers are among stiffer penalties proposed to discourage electoral malpractice during elections under the new Constitution.
In what is likely to completely change the electoral playing field, the draft Elections Bill seen by The Standard on Saturday also outlines the grounds for the recall of MPs, but imposes a rigorous procedure such that only the most discredited member of the National Assembly or Senate would be sent home.
However, MPs would secure at least three years of their tenure, notwithstanding the recall clause, should the proposals contained in the Bill’s Third Working Draft be retained.
The recall shall only be initiated 24 months after the election and not later than 12 months immediately preceding the next General Election, states the draft currently before the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution.
Drafters have proposed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission be granted the power to prosecute offences under the envisaged Act and impose sanctions against the person(s) pending determination of the issue.
The current Elections Offences Act, which is set for repeal, stipulates that prosecution for an offence under the Act shall not be instituted without the sanction of the Attorney-General.
Furthermore the common practice for party chiefs to nominate to Parliament cronies who lose out in elections will be a thing of the past. A political party shall submit its list for nomination to the IEBC before the nomination of candidates for election to the National Assembly, Senate and county assemblies.
Under the new proposals, offenders face heftier fines of up to Sh6 million and longer jail terms.
A presidential hopeful could see his dreams go up in smoke should a member of their political party engage in violence or intimidation targeting opponent(s) of the candidate either during nominations stage or election campaign.
“Where a party commits an election offence which the Commission considers to be of a grave nature or continuously repeats the offence, the presidential candidate of the political party shall not be eligible to vie for the presidential seat during the elections or subsequent elections as a result of any vacancy in the president’s seat,” the draft states.
A presidential candidate or a political party shall not at any time change the person nominated as a deputy presidential candidate after clearance by the Commission.
Other candidates who use violence against rivals, engage in bribery or in any election offence face disqualification too and the proposed IEBC can postpone elections in affected zones.
The draft Bill introduces an extensive section to bar participation in elections by public officers and discourages the misuse of public resources by incumbents, with offenders risking a six-year jail term and disqualification from the race.
The incumbents are compelled to furnish the IEBC with an inventory of State resources at their disposal so they are not used to gain undue advantage against rivals.
“For the purposes of this section, the Commission shall, in writing require any candidate, who is a member of Parliament, a Governor, deputy Governor or a member of a county assembly, to state the facilities attached to them to which this section applies or any equipment normally in their custody by virtue of that office,” states the draft.
Failure to comply with the provision will lead to imprisonment for six years or Sh2 million fine or both. Repeat offenders would be barred from participating in elections altogether and from holding any State office.
There would be no more goodies to be dished out during campaigns to sway voters, a ploy successive regimes have perfected at election time. It’s an offence for a candidate to initiate new development projects in any constituency or county three months before an election. Upon conviction one is liable to a fine not exceeding Sh6 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years or both.
Only recently, a contractor was commissioned the day before the Ikolomani by-election only for the project to be abandoned after the ODM candidate was defeated.
Elections officials found guilty of fiddling with elections, including making false entries — such as the controversial alteration of forms 4A — or falsely counting ballot papers as being cast for a candidate, will be fined Sh1 million or jailed for six years, or both.
Similarly, public officers who agree to be drafted into political campaigns risk Sh200,000 fine or two-year jail-term, or both. A candidate aiding such offence shall be removed from the ballot paper.
The draft Bill prohibits use of force or violence during election period, with offenders liable to five-year jail term, Sh1 million fine or both. MPs shopping for new parties will be racing against time come next year. For nomination by a party for presidential, parliamentary or county government elections, a person must have been a member of that political party at least three months before the date of nomination.
Already, the interim polls body has exercised this sanction by blocking former Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua from contesting the seat on a Kanu ticket after losing out on the PNU ticket.
However, parties shall submit to the commission closed party lists of their preferred nominees. Such a system allows the party chiefs to determine the order of its candidates and thus the voter has no influence on the position of the candidates placed on the party list.
In an attempt to clamp down on vote buying, the draft imposes a Sh1 million fine or imprisonment for six years, or both, to both the buyer and seller.
Be warned; you risk similar harsh punishment for putting into any ballot box anything other than the ballot paper authorised by law.
Conviction for multiple registrations as a voter will attract Sh100,000 fine or one-year jail term with similar punishment for electoral officials and candidates who aid in the offence.

Source- era beckons as Bill proposes tougher laws on elections

Comment on the article

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

%d bloggers like this: