Election law amendments face uncertain fate as UDA, ODM fault proposals

4 FEBRUARY, NAIROBI, KENYA — After several political parties with numerical power in the National Assembly punched holes in the legislative recommendations, the contentious Election Amendment Bill of 2022 may be doomed.

Opposing political parties have criticized the bill submitted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which intends to use alternate methods to convey results during the August 9 elections.

It further seeks to allow for manual identification of voters at polling stations sparking a protest over an alleged rigging plot. Electronic identification of voters was introduced in the Election Act to deter manipulation of voter turnout and lock out “dead voters” from the ballot.

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed (ODM), who doubles up as the Minority Whip in the National Assembly, said the proposal will create room for irregularities.

“We are not supporting the Elections Amendment Bill that is taking us back to manual system of tallying which is open to manipulation and errors,” said Mohammed.

The Minority Whip insisted that the amendments to electoral laws are retrogressive and cannot be adopted in the conduct of the General Election in August.

“The country has invested heavily in electronic system. We can only improve on it but not revert to manual,” Mohammed stated.

The ruling Jubilee Party denied a role in the proposed changes.

The party’s Secretary General Raphael Tuju said lawmakers loyal to the party will be guided by President Uhuru Kenyatta during a Parliamentary Group meeting at State House on Friday.

“We will not support a bill that seeks to go against the gains in the constitution and it should be known that this is not a Jubilee sponsored bill but it belongs to IEBC,” he said.

Already, Deputy President William Ruto had warned his allies in the National Assembly not to support the bill.

Ruto raised a red flag over plans to review election-related laws touching on transmission and declaration of poll results saying the move is part of a plan to rig the forthcoming elections.

The DP said the changes are designed to make elections less accountable and create an enabling environment for rogue officials to overturn the popular will of the people.

Under the Elections Act, poll results declared at the polling station are final and the same are transmitted electronically as provisional results. The law also forbids variation of results at constituency and national tallying centres.

“The never-ending onslaught through election law amendments is a choreographed attempt to install a puppet on the Kenyan electorate and sabotage our freedom of choice and hard-earned democracy. The plan is evil and must fail. The people have resoundingly said HATUPANGWINGWI (We cannot be deceived),” Ruto, the presumed presidential candidate of the United Democratic Alliance said.

He termed the amendments tabled  by House Majority Leader Amos Kimunya as a conspiracy to facilitate a smooth sail of Raila Odinga’s presidential bid against the will of the people.

“The desperate efforts to install project kitendawili (riddle) by forceful, illegal, undemocratic & unconstitutional means portends a troubled future for Kenya, its democracy, the rule of law, freedom of its citizens and, ultimately, everyone’s well-being,” he stated in a reference to Odinga who will be running for the top seat on an Azimio la Umoja Movement ticket, a coalition party.

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