11th Parliament set bad precedent on gender rule for the 12th

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19 – The 11th Parliament has been faulted in a new report on election preparedness for setting a bad precedent for the next Parliament over its failure to comply with a court order to operationalise the two thirds gender principle set out in Article 81 of the Constitution.

According to the report released Tuesday by the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) in conjunction with Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ), the Chief Justice should have advised the President to dissolve the Parliament prior to its adjournment in order to send a warning.

While making a determination on petition number 371 of 2016, Justice John Mativo ruled on March 29 that both Houses of Parliament had “failed in their joint and separate constitutional obligations to enact legislation necessary to give effect to the principle,” holding that the failure amounted to a violation of the rights of women to equity and freedom.

“An order of mandamus be and is hereby issued directing Parliament and the Honourable Attorney General to take steps to ensure that the required legislation is enacted within a period of 60 days from the date of this order and to report the progress to the Chief Justice,” Justice Mativo ruled at the time.

Further, the High Court ruled that “if Parliament fails to enact the said legislation within the said period of 60 days from the date of this order, the petitioners or any other person shall be at liberty to petition the Honourable the Chief Justice to advise the President to dissolve Parliament.”

By the end of May, Parliament was yet to comply with the ruling despite frantic efforts by the State Law office to push for introducing a bill in parliament to provide for filling of the gaps arising for a gender imbalance through nomination slots.

AfriCOG Executive Director Gladwell Otieno said during the launch of the report this could expose the next parliament to legal hurdles if care is not taken.

“As of June 8, women were only nine per cent of all the processed candidates and that leaves Kenya in a very poor position globally in terms of gender parity. We cannot keep pointing to the lack of legal provisions to keep disenfranchising women,” she said.

She also expressed concern with the new election regulations passed by Parliament last year following protests by the Opposition calling for electoral reforms.

According to the lobbyists, it is critical that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission provides clarity on some of the provisions in the election regulations such as the use of complementary mechanisms in case of technology failure.

“IEBC has to undertake an extra effort to allay public fears because people are liable to be alarmed by reports of failings,” she said.

The report dubbed “Ready of Not?” was compiled in the months of April and June and is second in a series of reports published by the two groups.

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