Azimio, UDA supremacy wars mar debate of election laws – The Star, Kenya

•The proposed law seeks to stage a ban on live streaming, introduces complimentary transmission of results, and voter listing restrictions.
•Duale opposed the involvement of the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Kangema MP Muturi Kigano saying the House team did not handle the parties’ bill well.  
The supremacy wars pitting ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Azimio and DP William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance marred the debate on the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 on Tuesday.
In what evokes memories of the past fights between the two sides during the passage of the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021 – now an Act- the two sides differed on how to handle the bill.
UDA allied MPs led by Garissa Township’s Aden Duale, appearing to be rearing for a fight to defeat the legislation, sought that a special committee be formed to look at the bill.
The proposed law seeks to ban live streaming, introduces complimentary transmission of results, and voter listing restrictions.
Duale opposed the involvement of the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Kangema MP Muturi Kigano saying the House team did not handle the parties’ bill well.  
Several members backing Ruto’s presidential bid among them David Sankok and Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie sought that Speaker Justin Muturi directs on the constitutionality of the bill.
They said the bill was not properly before the House and that it has provisions that limit the rights of Kenyans to participate in elections.
Duale cast doubt on JLAC’s capacity to deliver the bill, citing the chaos that followed during the debate and approval of the Political Parties (Amendment) Act, 2021.
The former Majority leader sought the bill be handled like in 2017 when election laws were handled by a joint committee of the Senate and National Assembly.
The team was co-chaired by Siaya Senator James Orengo and then Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi.
“With the removal of many lawyers like Otiende Amolo (Rarieda MP) from JLAC, I propose the bill should not be committed to JLAC,” Duale said.
“Allow us time in the next 48 hours to consult the leadership and ourselves across the political divide and propose a special committee to consider the bill.” 
Duale said the team would thus be in a better place to undertake extensive public participation and thereafter report to the House.
“The Standing Order says the House may resolve to form a special committee to consider a bill. For all contentious constitutional issues arising, a special committee is the way to go to allow for extensive public participation,” he said.
The MP, a close Ruto ally, said, “Elections are an emotive issue hence the reason why a bipartisan team of members – legal minds, should be put in place. We can build a thorough consensus process,”
“We don’t want to go the route that we saw in the Parties’ bill where now more than five key organizations have gone to court to challenge. If we choose not to go through the last year’s route, we may witness the chaos and dozens of amendments, a failed winnowing and a failed plenary vote.”
Kigano rebuffed the calls for a special committee saying it was regrettable the House cannot legislate smoothly because of the attitude of some members who don’t see themselves as national leaders.
“I emphasize at there are no special circumstances that remove the bill from normal procedure. Not a single aspect of the bill occasions the need to have the bill considered in a special way,” he said.
“This bill should be considered in the national interest, not partisan interest.”
Kitutu Chache North MP Jimmy Angwenyi said that much as the matters raised by the former Majority leader were important, JLAC cannot be dissolved as a House committee without a special motion.
“If the committee is incompetent, dissolve it. But how do you do so without a motion? Let us not cast aspersions on the capacity of any member of parliament,” he said.
Otiende Amolo, said since elections are emotive, a consensus was important in the proposed amendments.
“Some of the proposed amendments are positive but others require robust engagements. Even as we exercise caution in amending the law, it is important to develop consensus on the bill, even if it requires to be built outside the house,” the lawmaker said.
Majority leader Amos Kimunya, the bill’s sponsor, said the move by Duale was a continuation of the filibustering on the legislation by a faction keen on opposing the same.
“It is clear once a bill is read, it shall be committed to the relevant House committee. The Speaker has guided the House that we go by Standing Orders. We should go by the rules. Every member is at liberty to canvas the issues at the committee,” the Kipipiri MP said.
Muturi, in his ruling, said the bill proceeds to the JLAC and members with reservations and views on improvement to present the same to the committee.
“If we were to allow what Duale is saying, we will be hijacking the bill. Let him consult as he suggests and bring motion but you will be taking the bill away from the committee where it is already channelled if we take that direction now,” the speaker said.
He urged MPs to adopt a win-win situation in handling matters legislation.
“It is only fair that we go canvass our viewpoints at the committee. Members still have the opportunity during the committee of the whole House to deal with the matter,” he said.
UDA had earlier succeeded to stop the bill on its tracks after a vote on February 3 which defeated a motion to reduce the bill’s publication period to five days.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris
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