KENYA SUMAKU

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Draft law: Experts boost senate powers

Posted by Popular Ombudsman on February 11, 2010

Oliver Mathenge(Daily Nation)

The Committee of Experts (CoE) is reported to have enhanced the powers of the senate in the revised draft to be debated in Parliament later in February.

The senate will have legislative authority and will also be superior to the National Assembly, contrary to the proposals made by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC).

Other changes include the direct election of two senators, not one, in each of the 47 proposed counties. The experts are also said to have given the Senate powers to overrule presidential decisions.

This is likely to generate much heat from the MPs as this would make them less powerful than the senators.

Constituencies

The experts have also maintained the number of constituencies at 290, with an amendment that this is the maximum number of MPs the country can have.

“Using the words ‘up to 290’ we have given the boundaries review commission the liberty to create even fewer constituencies,” said a source at the committee.

In addition, the experts are said to have decided that the presidential and parliamentary elections be held on the same day. The Naivasha draft had proposed that parliamentary elections be held in August and the presidential poll in December.

The threshold for presidency has also been raised, with the new proposal now requiring 25 per cent in at least 28 of the 47 proposed counties. It raises the number by five counties from the MPs’ proposal.

However, in a move likely to avert a crisis between the CoE and PSC, the experts have accepted most of the changes made by the politicians in Naivasha. They have also set aside some issues that they want to discuss with the PSC next week.

Among the issues to be discussed include the Bill of Rights and in particular the issue of when life starts, kadhi’s courts and transition clauses on the Judiciary.

The draft currently being reviewed by the CoE is expected back in the PSC by February 19. It is to be tabled in Parliament by February 26 for a 30-day debate.

Elsewhere, lawyers want all judges to be sent home pending vetting under the draft constitution. The Law Society of Kenya (LSK), in a meeting with Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo, on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction with the move by the PSC to scrap a clause that required vetting of the judges.

According to LSK boss Okong’o O’mogeni, this will be the ultimate test for the Judiciary in its quest to institute reforms.

NOTE: At least this CoE still has a chance to demonstrate that it listens to the citizens. That is why they are there in the first place…to see where we disagree with these politicians.

Additional reporting by Benjamin Muindi

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