MPs’ Commitee defends changes to the Kenya’s Elections Amendment Bill

The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) of the National Assembly has come out in support of proposed modifications to the Elections Amendment Bill, which have sparked debate among political players.

Vice Chairman Tom Kajwang of the Committee explained that the draft law arose from a meeting between the Committee and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to discuss how to implement various court decisions arising from the recent general elections, in which various sections of the law may have been declared unconstitutional.

“As we are concerned, when we will debate it, when we see the blue copy, we will see what the IEBC has put together but what we are expecting is that there must be accountability and election which is which is justifiable, verifiable in terms of transmission of result results,” he said.

He cautioned his colleagues in Parliament against making statements that are likely to heighten public mood in the run up to the August 9 General Election.

“I have been hearing debates out there that there are proposals to remove transmissions of results, whether digital or manual but that will surprise even us because that will not be what we advised. I also hear that the Bill seeks to deny the media access to information or issues relating to campaigns that will also surprise us because it is not within the scope of the advisory that this Committee gave,” he said explaining that the debate should be guided by facts.

Kajwang added; “IEBC will come before us again and if anything in that Bill which was not as contemplated by this Committee, we will subject them again to the same rigorous process that we have subjected other Bills to.”

The Bill sponsored by IEBC, which seeks to have alternative methods to be deployed to relay results during the August 9 polls, has received criticism from opposing political camps.

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.

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.

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

The ruling Jubilee Party through Secretary General Raphael Tuju denied a role in the proposed changes.

“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 the 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.