The new election laws set for debate in Parliament are constitutional, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said Wednesday.
“The bill was brought by a member in the House and since my job is to determine its validity, I approved the bill because it is constitutional,” Mr Muturi said at the Serena Beach, Mombasa when he opened an induction forum for chairperson’s panel which assists the speaker in running of the House business.
He said the laws will take effect after the President assents to them and are gazetted adding “as for when the laws will apply, I don’t know.”
He added that the law does not specify that the quorum should be composed of members from particular parties.
“If you look at the constitution, it says that the deliberations and decisions of a House are not invalid merely because of participation by people who are not supposed to participate or the absence of people who are supposed to be present but choose to be absent,” he said.
Before bills are debated in Parliament, the Speaker has to approve them for publication, a process that involves determining whether they are constitutional.
The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill is currently at the committee stage with members of the public presenting their views and is likely to be tabled in Parliament for debate when sittings resume on October 10.
The law seeks to trim the powers of chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC); reduce the quorum of the composition of the commission and give prominence to manual transmission of results.
Questions have been raised over whether the laws are indeed constitutional, with the National Super Alliance (Nasa) calling for their withdrawal.
Nasa has threatened to boycott debate of the law saying it was unconstitutional but Mr Muturi said when the bill is tabled in Parliament, it will be debated whether the opposition participates or not.
The Speaker’s comments come even as the European Union Elections Observer Mission cautioned against enacting the laws before the October 26 Presidential poll re-run.
On Tuesday, the observer mission raised concern particularly on the plan to reduce the quorum of the composition of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The Speaker on Wednesday asked those who preside over the business of the House to be impartial and conduct their activities impartially, giving all parties a chance to air their views.
“We will be called upon to exercise fairness, uniformity and guarded discretion particularly on according Members chance to speak in the House. For instance, in House debates, sometimes we will have to deviate from the automatic sequence displayed on the electronic gadgets to incorporate regional balance, gender, various expertise, minority views and other considerations to make the debates more representative, informative and of course, lively,” Mr Muturi said.