Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro in a special Kenya Gazette dated December 23 recalled the members for a special sitting on Wednesday to discuss among others the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill.
As the acrimonious election amendment Bill awaits debate in the Senate on Wednesday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) says Parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee ignored some recommendations in a brief the commission had handed the committee.
“As we move forward, it is our desire that Parliament, through bipartisan approach, will ensure that we have a well-informed and robust legal framework going into the elections,” the brief by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission states.
Already, the National Assembly has passed amendments to the election law in an acrimonious two-day special sittings and the Bill now heads to the Senate to consider the same.
But even as the Senate prepares for the special sitting, IEBC says that what they shared with the Justice committee is not what the National Assembly adopted in an acrimonious sitting in which Cord MPs walked out, thereby raising political temperatures during the Christmas festivities.
“I am totally confident that the Senate will exercise Solomonic Wisdom to save this country,” Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar said ahead of the special sitting.
A tabulation by IEBC shows that a number of their recommendations were either not considered or the amendments are not the same ones they wanted.
But Mr Omar said the Senate’s hands are tied to what they will debate.
“That would not happen now. The debate will be limited to what was passed in the National Assembly,” he said.
Three members of JLAC consisting of the chairman Samuel Chepkonga, the vice chairperson Priscilla Nyokabi and Ol-joro-orok MP John Waiganjo did not respond to Nation on the matters raised by IEBC.
However, Majority Leader of the National Assembly Aden Duale said IEBC has no basis to claim that Parliament shortchanged them.
“IEBC presented a raft of amendments dealing with technology malfunction, voters per polling station and many others. But JLAC in their wisdom agreed that some of the proposals were not urgent and did not pose challenges to the 2017 General Election. The committee therefore picked the ones that were deemed urgent and presented the same to the National Assembly,” said Mr Duale.
The commission had asked JLAC to amend Section 2(e) by adding the word facial so as to read: “‘Biometric’” means unique identifiers or attributes including facial, fingerprints, hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves, DNA, and signatures”.
In the earlier law, the word facial had been omitted in the definition of biometric. But this recommendation was not considered.
The commission had also proposed that Section 6A(1) be amended by deleting the words “biometric data” before the words “by members” and replacing with “registration”.
According to the commission, this approach was meant to provide Kenyans alternative mechanisms such as SMS and web portal to confirm their registration details.
However, in IEBC’s analysis “The proposal to include alternative mechanism for verification of registration details (was) not considered.”
The National Assembly also retained the 120 days within which IEBC election technology is required to procure, test, verify and deploy technology. IEBC’s proposal was to cut down the number of days to 45.
For party nominations, the commission recommended “deleting the words 60 days before an election” to give it power to determine the nomination date through gazette notices.