Bill seeks to lock out MPs without degrees

Once the assembly approves the Bill, it will be taken to the Senate for concurrence.

Monday March 14 2016

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Issack Hassan during the start of mass voter registration at Pumwani Social Hall on February 15, 2016. IEBC is pushing for the passing of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015 that seeks to lock out non-degree holders from stepping in Parliament. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Issack Hassan during the start of mass voter registration at Pumwani Social Hall on February 15, 2016. IEBC is pushing for the passing of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015 that seeks to lock out non-degree holders from stepping in Parliament. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT
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Panic has hit Parliament as the electoral commission presses on with the demand for degrees for all lawmakers who wish to contest in the coming General Election.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has said it would not relent in its push to set the bar higher for all lawmakers.

IEBC is pushing for the passing of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015 that seeks to lock out non-degree holders from stepping in Parliament.

Some MPs and senators without a degree have enrolled in local and foreign universities as the clock ticks towards the next elections.

A number of woman representatives, as well as nominated senators and MPs, also do not have degrees.

In the last polls, candidates were required to produce a certificate showing that they had undergone post-secondary school training of at least three months.

The omnibus Bill, which is set to be tabled in the National Assembly, was largely prepared by IEBC but refined by parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

Once the assembly approves the Bill, it will be taken to the Senate for concurrence.

“A person may be nominated as a candidate for an election under this Act only if that person holds, in the case of a Member of Parliament, a degree from a university recognised in Kenya or, in the case of a Member of a County Assembly, a post-secondary school diploma from an institution recognised in Kenya,” reads the Bill.

IEBC legal officer Salome Oyugi told civil society representatives at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi, on Friday:

“The Constitution expects us to have academic qualifications for everyone who vies in an election, including MPs and MCAs. We have suggested a degree for MP and a diploma for MCA.”

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