Contentious poll law changes won’t apply to repeat election

Saturday is the fourteenth day since President Uhuru Kenyatta informed the country that he had received the election laws bill, whose passage was marked by controversy.

It will however take some time before the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017, takes effect.

In fact, the bill enabling the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to announce the results of the presidential election in the absence of the chairman will not affect the poll whose result Kenyans are waiting for.

According to the Constitution, there are two ways for a law to take effect.

The first is when the President assents to it.

Article 116 (1) states that after he appends his signature to a bill, the draft law should be published in the Kenya Gazette as an Act of Parliament within seven days.

Article 115 (6) states that if the President does not assent to a bill or refer it back to Parliament within 14 days, the draft law shall be taken to have been assented to on the expiry of the 14 days.

But there is still some way to go, according to Article 116 (2).

It states: “An Act of Parliament comes into force on the fourteenth day after its publication in the Gazette, unless the Act stipulates a different date on or time at which it will come into force.”

This means the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill still has to be published in the Kenya Gazette if the President has neither assented to it nor returned it to Parliament.

After the seven days, it would come into force after 14 days.

That would be outside the seven days within which the IEBC should declare the result of the presidential election and the 14 days within which a petition challenging the result can be filed at the Supreme Court.

President Kenyatta has been silent about the fate of the bill and did not mention it in his address to the nation on the eve of the repeat election.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen reminded journalists at a press conference at Parliament that he had been asking President Kenyatta to assent to the bill but pointed out that it would take some time to come into effect.

“A bill, after the President signs it, does not become law until it is gazetted,” he said.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah said as far as Parliament is concerned, the President was yet to assent to the bill.

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Written by Daily Nation

The Nation Media Group (NMG) founded by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1959 has become the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa. It has been quoted on the Nairobi Stock Exchange since the early 1970s.

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