MPs, mainly from the Jubilee Party, have approved creation of a special committee to scrutinise a proposed change to the law on elections, driving on the dispute it has created between them and the Opposition.
Opposition MPs stormed out of the chamber on Thursday morning after losing a vote on the fast-tracking of the bill and did not return to the House in the afternoon when the nine-member committee was formed.
The committee will be headed by Baringo North MP William Cheptumo and has eight other members from the Jubilee Party.
It is expected to receive the views of the public during the 11-day break that started on Thursday.
Other members are Gladys Shollei (Uasin Gishu, Woman Rep), Waihenya Ndirangu (Roysambu), Ali Wario (Bura), Jennifer Shamalla (Nominated), Adan Haji Yusuf (Mandera West), George Murugara (Tharaka), Stanley Muthama (Lamu West) and Alice Wahome (Kandara).
The creation of the committee signals Jubilee Party’s resolve to go ahead with the proposed changes despite the fact that the Opposition coalition, Nasa, cited the bill’s fast-tracking as the basis for walking out of talks with the electoral commission at the Bomas of Kenya.
On Thursday evening, Majority Leader Aden Duale sought to justify the bill and asked MPs and every other interested party to read it and see that Jubilee has no sinister motive in fronting it just before the repeat election.
He said the motivation to come up with changes arose from the judgement of the Supreme Court in allowing the petition against the re-election of President Kenyatta and the landmark case by Maina Kiai and other before the elections.
He told his colleagues that with the Court of Appeal in the Maina Kiai case doing away with provisional results as currently stated in the Elections Act, the bill was merely taking care of that.
“We have absolutely no mischief. We know our numbers. We are out campaigning. Our numbers are very clear. We have no cards under the table,” he said.
In the morning, Mr Duale and other Jubilee leaders in the House rallied their numbers to shorten the publication period for the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, the Election Offences (Amendment) Bill and two others, allowing their formal introduction in the legislative pipeline.
They voted 144-53, flexing their numerical strength, with the MPs from the Opposition parties then staging a walk-out from the chambers.
Chanting slogans, the MPs vowed not to be cowed by their Jubilee counterparts due to their inferiority in terms of numbers.
Led by Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang, the Nasa MPs said they would fight to the end to ensure that Jubilee does not turn parliamentary affairs into Jubilee activities.
“What has been done today by the majority leader Aden Duale is like Jubilee rubber-stamping the agenda of their party from State House. There is no turning back from our side. They will harass us, shout at us using their numbers but they will not stop us from standing with majority of Kenyans,” Mr Kajwang said.
“Though we are few, we are strong in spirit and majority of Kenyans are on our side.”
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa accused Jubilee of changing the rules of the game midway, a move he said is meant to help President Uhuru Kenyatta rig the repeat of the presidential election.
“We are not part and parcel of this Jubilee game to rig the repeat poll, even if we are few in the House, I want to assure the country that we will fight for the right things to be done for the sake of Kenyans,” Mr Wamalwa said.
“The pre-publication period is normally 14 days unless there is something urgent or compelling worth shortening the days which in this case there isn’t. Jubilee is just denying the public and even legislators from scrutinising the changes,” he added.
The move by the opposition MPs to walk out after suffering defeat from the jubilee counterparts replicates the scenes of the 11th Parliament where they used the same tactics after being outnumbered by the ruling party.
Nasa MPs walk out as they protest bid to amend poll laws.