FRESH graduates could soon be required to wait for five years before running for MP or Senator in a radical proposal that could also end the political careers of several current lawmakers.

The amendments spearheaded by the IEBC propose that all contestants for the the bicameral Parliament should be holders of at least a university degree attained at least five years before an election.

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The law currently states that one should have postgraduate qualifications, a provision the IEBC views as ambiguous.

This means that new graduates such as former Starehe MP Margret Wanjiru who completed her degree just this year could again be locked out from the contest in 2017, if the amendments are enacted.

“The Election Act should provide that candidates must not be ongoing students, must have obtained certification, at least six months for diploma and five years for university degree,” the IEBC proposals read in part.

In another proposal that is likely to generate political heat, the IEBC says that members of the county assemblies should possess at least a diploma.

The Commission says the Election Act should expressly provide that all university degrees must be recognised by the Commission for Higher Education while diplomas must be recognised by both CHE and the Ministry of Education.

“All candidates will provide a declaration on oath ascertaining educational qualifications,” the proposals state in addition to provision of certified copies of the certificates.

In 2012, more than half of the lawmakers nearly locked themselves out of contention after they approved a section in the Elections Act requiring aspirants for the presidential, governor and parliamentary seats to be degree holders.

However, the law was later amended to provide that MPs and Senators only require “a post-secondary education”, terminology the IEBC says is ambiguous.

Section 22 of the the current Election Act states: “a person may be nominated as a candidate for election as President, Deputy President, county Governor or deputy county Governor only if the person is a holder of a degree from a university recognised in Kenya”.

In a detailed audit of all election laws, the IEBC proposes that a member of Parliament who has lost his seat by way of recall should not be immediately eligible to run again.

“A member of Parliament who has been recalled may not be eligible to run in the subsequent by-election,” the proposed amendments state.

The Issaack Hassan-lead commission also proposes that political parties should nominate their candidates at least 45 days before D-Day and not 21 days as happened in 2013.

They also suggest that a person should only be registered as a voter if he or she has proof of residence in a specific area. The Commission emphasises that the move would eliminate what it terms “importation of voters”.

The proof of residence they propose can be demonstrated through a number of documents, including a bill or receipt for the current year or the year proceeding the date of the election.

The Commission has also proposed amendments to the law governing nominations, pointing out that the word ‘marginalised’ should be defined for the purposes of allocating seats to special-interest groups.

“The law clearly provides for representation of special interest groups, which must be realised,” the IEBC states. In 2013, political parties allocated their cronies seats reserved for special-interest groups, sparking an outcry.

The IEBC also wants more than 14 days for the hearing and determination of presidential election petitions.


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