KENYA: Parliament Rejects Bill on two Third- Gender Rule

NAIROBI MAY 6, 2016(CISA) – A bill seeking to entrench the two-thirds gender rule as provided by the constitution has been rejected by parliament.

The bill, meant to balance the composition of elective offices in Kenya to ensure there is equity in the government by not allowing one gender to hold more than two-thirds of elective positions was rejected May 5.

The National Gender and Equality Commission through its Chairperson Winfred Lichuma, noted that the “country now faces the real prospect of sinking into an unprecedented constitutional crisis next year should the number of elected Members in the National Assembly and Senate fail to meet the minimum gender threshold.”

“The failure to pass the Bill by the National Assembly is unfortunate as it rolls back the gains made to implement the Constitution of Kenya 2010 in compliance with the not more than two third gender principle. It is a betrayal to the people of Kenya for it continues to entrench systematic political marginalization of more than half of the country’s population,” said Mr Lichuma.

The National Assembly has 349 members but only 199 were present of which only 178 voted Yes.

This happened despite the fact that President Uhuru Kenyatta had earlier urged MPs in the Jubilee coalition to turn up in large numbers to pass the Bill into law.

A statement issued through State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu prior to the parliamentary sitting read, “President Uhuru Kenyatta urges the MPs especially to turn up in large numbers at this crucial vote to pass the Bill into law, to comply with the constitutional provisions in Articles 27(8) and 81(b) on the composition of elective offices in Kenya. Passage of the legislation will secure gender equity in Government.”

Former Prime minister and opposition leader, Raila Odinga personally went to the National Assembly and followed the proceedings in the gallery but the MPs from both the Government and opposition sides ensured the vote was defeated.

National Gender and Equality Commission also observed, “The country still does not have a framework to enforce compliance with the not more than two thirds gender principle and the deadline of August 27, 2016 is fast approaching. The upshot of this is that the matter is subject to legal interpretation. The Commission will be exploring possible ways out of the impasse.”

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