MPs to have say on referendum question - Beaking Kenya News

Beaking Kenya News

Where It All Happens

Breaking Kenya News


Thursday, 31 December 2020

MPs to have say on referendum question


The announcement by the electoral commission that MPs will have a say in the framing of the referendum question (s) now puts Parliament as the next stage for the battle ahead of the plebiscite.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) also left open the possibility of having a multiple questions referendum and revealed that the commission will rely on the Elections Act 2011, which provides for the approval by Parliament of the referendum question (s).

The IEBC officials pointed out that it is not just going to be the prerogative of IEBC but it will be a consultative process with Parliament as envisaged in the law.

The issue has become a bone of contention between Deputy President William Ruto’s camp on one hand and the Handshake partners of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s on the other side.

While Dr Ruto has been pushing for a multiple question referendum to allow Kenyans approve “good clauses in the BBI Bill and reject bad ones,” Mr Odinga has insisted that there shall only be a single question for the vote.

The ODM leader has criticised Dr Ruto for “seeking to subject Kenyans to an examination and not a referendum” through multiple questions.

Multiple choices

The DP has, however, maintained that Kenyans have been able to choose their preferred leaders despite several names on the ballot and nothing stops them from being subjected to the multiple questions.

On Wednesday, at a ceremony presided over by IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati to launch of the verification of 4.4 million signatures collected by the BBI secretariat, Commissioner Abdi Guliye said the law allows for either single or multiple question referendum.

“The commission will be guided by the law. Article 257 as well as Section 49 of the Elections Act requires that the commission formulates question or questions.”

“It therefore means we can formulate one question or multiple questions,” Prof Guliye said.

Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata told the Nation that the commission was within the law to consult parliament on the way forward in as far as formulation of the referendum question (s) is concerned.

 “Yes indeed, parliament will take a vote on this matter. The commission can only make recommendations but it cannot make law,” Mr Kang’ata said.

The commission’s recommendations, he said, are not binding on parliament as they only form part of public participation views.

"No amendments"

But National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya insisted that a constitutional amendment bill is passed as it is, “without cherry picking or even any amendments.”

“The BBI bill is such a bill, touching on 14 chapters of the constitution yet having interrelated amendments. It will have to go through all approval processes in County Assemblies, Parliament and the People as a single question bill - aye or nay,” Mr Kimunya told the Nation.

He said the bill is not a document containing issues to be resolved through several questions – “such as should a county or group of counties secede from Kenya, should we continue with the 2/3 gender principle, or should we do away with the Senate .”

“These could be framed as standalone questions. The good lawyers have advised as such but politically inclined lawyers are happy to entertain their master with the delusion of multiple choice constitution amendments within a single bill,” added Mr Kimunya.

Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, however, stated that it is the promoters of the bill who determines how best the question should be framed.

“A popular initiative in the constitution is by way of draft bill or questions. It is the promoters who choose. For clarity, the referendum bill can clarify how to vote on a bill or questions framed under Article 255,” Mr Kilonzo told the Nation yesterday. Yesterday, the countdown for the BBI referendum kicked off with the launch of the signatures verification exercise by the electoral agency.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati officiated the exercise to be conducted by 400 data verification clerks and at least 60 supervisors.

The clerks yesterday began by taking a secrecy oath and a one day training before they start the verification of the 4.4 million signatures today. The exercise is expected to take at least 40 days.

No comments: