KENYA: Civil Society Faults Amendments on Election Laws

NAIROBI SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 (CISA)– Civil society groups under the Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu umbrella have today condemned proposed amendments to the elections act terming the move unconstitutional.

The Jubilee Party, through its majority in the National Assembly, is pushing to change election laws using the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2017 which they said will resolve ambiguities before repeat presidential election is held on October 26.

In a press statement, the civil society groups said the amendments are an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court Judgment and will legalize some of the aspects of the annulled presidential elections that the Supreme Court identified as irregular and illegal.

“You do not go to parliament to change the rules to circumvent what the Supreme Court ordered the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to do; the order that the Supreme Court gave in its judgment was directed to the IEBC not to parliament,” they said.

According to the civil society, the constitutions clearly stipulates that it is the chairperson of the IEBC that will declare the presidential results, and that statute cannot be amended to say that any commissioner can declare the results as the amendments proposes.

“We are also concerned about the attempt to infiltrate the IEBC by legislation. The law as it stands says that the quorum for making decisions is five out of seven commissioners, the amendments are saying three commissioners, this means you are attempting to create a commission out of a commission,” they said.

On the management of a presidential election the bill provides for concurrent electronic and manual transmission of tabulated results from polling stations to the constituency and national tallying centre, publish the result forms in a public portal.

If there is a discrepancy between the manual and electronically transmitted results, the manual shall prevail.

On election offences the bill says any presiding officer and returning officer who knowingly fails to sign or fill completely result forms, submit incomplete forms or change or falsify them will serve five years in jail without the option of a fine.