Jubilee senators left the Senate at midnight on Thursday a delighted lot after successfully passing the contentious Election Laws (Amendment) Bill without amendments, paving the way for President Uhuru Kenyatta to sign it into law.
This is despite spirited efforts by the opposition, led by minority leader Moses Wetang’ula, to show that the Bill was unconstitutional and could plunge the country into chaos.
Senator Wetang’ula called for the voice of reason to prevail, saying the Senate should rise above parochial interests that do not advance the interests of the country.
“Bulldoze what you want, but don’t drag our image into the mud. Let’s be bipartisan and salvage the image of this House,” Mr Wetang’ula said.
But, Jubilee lawmakers, who appeared reluctant to delay the process by disagreeing with some clauses, used their numbers to defeat all the amendments pushed by the Opposition.
Eventually, 26 lawmakers voted for the Bill as 10 opposed it, rendering a blow to the Opposition's push to have the law struck out.
Mr Wetang'ula said the process through which the laws were passed was not fair, saying that an unauthorised senator had been allowed to vote.
“This amounts to cheating. This is rigging,” he claimed.
CALL FOR MASS ACTION
Cord had warned that it would call mass action if the laws are passed after allied politicians claimed they were meant to introduce the use of a manual voting backup system to rig the next elections.
The Opposition wants the electronic system used in the elections whereas Jubilee has maintained that a backup system must be used to ensure eligible voters are not denied the chance to vote.
The joint legal affairs and ICT committee had agreed that technology should be used in this year’s elections and that a backup mechanism would only be triggered if there is a failure of technology in exceptional cases.
However, the committee that sought public views before reporting to the House observed that there was a need to define the type of backup system that would be used.
The committee report indicated that most stakeholders’ submissions supported the need for a backup system but disagreed on the type of backup system to be deployed, which could be manual, electronic, a hybrid or a layered system.
“There is [a] need to clearly define the circumstances which may trigger the use of a backup mechanism,” the report said.