Uhuru keeps all guessing on the fate of Bill amending the election laws
President Uhuru Kenyatta signs a bill into law. The President has yet to assent to Election Laws (Amendment) Bill. [File, Standard]President Uhuru Kenyatta has kept political actors and the electoral agency guessing on his decision on the controversial election laws that were recently passed by Parliament.
The President has yet to assent to the laws or send them back to Parliament with a memorandum explaining why he cannot give his nod to them, as required by law, after receiving the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill on October 13.
Instead, Uhuru has maintained his silence on the bill. The only time he publicly spoke about it was the day when National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi delivered the bill to him, when he said he would look at the proposed changes to the electoral laws before making his decision on them known.
The laws could, however, technically come into effect after tomorrow even without the President’s assent. According to the Constitution, if the President does not act on a bill 14 days after he receives it, the bill automatically is assumed to have been approved. Then the President would only need to gazette the laws for them to take effect.
“If the President does not assent to a bill or refer it back within the period prescribed in clause (1), or assent to it under (5) (b), the bill shall be taken to have been assented to on the expiry of that period,” states Article 115(6) of the Constitution.
Among the drastic changes contained in the bill is the amendment of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Act allowing the vice chairperson of the commission to declare the results of a presidential election in the absence of the chairman.
The bill also provides that in the absence of the chairman and the vice chairman, then “other members of the commission will elect one of them to act and exercise the powers and responsibilities of the chairperson until the position is substantively filled”.
IEBC Act currently only allows the chairperson that mandate as he is the national returning officer.
The proposed law also removes the strict requirement that the holder of the position of chairperson of the IEBC be a lawyer qualified to hold the office of judge of the Supreme Court. It only requires a candidate to hold a degree from a recognised university in the fields of public administration, public finance, governance, electoral management, social science, or law. But the holder must have a proven experience in the fields for not less than 15 years