Faced with the possible dissolution of Parliament for delaying the implementation of the new Constitution, MPs have agreed to take the controversial boundaries report to the House for debate.
Dispute over the report by the Interim Boundaries Review Commission has held up the formation of the commission to implement the new laws and the Revenue Allocation Commission.
On Monday, MPs were warned by National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende that if they continued to hold up the implementation of the Constitution, the country could be forced into an early election.
The boundaries commission report, which proposed the creation of 80 new constituencies, has raised political temperatures and divided the country.
According to the agreement on Monday, those MPs who disagree with the proposals of the boundaries body, headed by former Vihiga MP Andrew Ligale, would be free to bring amendments.
Mr Marende, chairman of the constitutional implementation oversight committee Abdikadir Mohammed and chairman of the legal affairs committee Ababu Namwamba had warned MPs that any more delays in the implementation of the Constitution could trigger the dissolution of the House.
They all appealed to MPs to speed up the formation of the Implementation Commission and the Commission on Revenue Allocation.
“This is the opportunity to put all the cards on the table, the good ones, the safe ones and the dangerous ones,” Mr Namwamba said.
After day-long discussions, the MPs attending the retreat at the Kenya Institute of Administration, voted by acclamation to allow the tabling the report.
The battle over the report now goes to the floor of the House.
The MPs also agreed to establish urgently the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the successor of the Ligale commission, to conclude the task.
“We are happy that there is a breakthrough,” Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi said at the end of the one-day retreat. “MPs have come up with a way forward.”
The MPs asked the Departmental Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs chaired by Mr Namwamba — the Budalang’i MP — to table the report.
“We have a working proposal on whose basis we can move the process forward. The new position incorporates two of the four proposals discussed, in that Parliament will have a role to play as well as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission,” Mr Namwamba said.
The MPs arrived at the decision after breaking into regional caucuses to cool down tempers, which had begun to flare during the plenary session.
The committee has not been given the time within which it should bring the report, but Mr Murungi said debate was urgent.
Mr Namwamba promised to move fast to prepare legislation for the creation of the new Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, spelling out a specific mandate to look at the Ligale list.
“The commission will have a specific timeframe for the new commission to look at the Ligale report,” he stated.
Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto said there was unanimity among members to adopt the report.
However, public works assistant minister Mwangi Kiunjuri questioned Parliament’s powers to adopt a report that is the subject of a court case.
“There are questions as to whether Parliament can adopt a report that the courts have declared as lacking a legal basis,” Mr Kiunjuri said.
Two businessmen had challenged the report in court.
Earlier, MPs had been warned of the wrath of Kenyans if they failed to resolve the constituency boundaries row.
“Fortunately for this country, Parliament can no longer hold Kenyans to ransom because the new Constitution liberates them from all forms of tyranny, executive tyranny, parliamentary tyranny and even judicial tyranny,” Mr Namwamba said.
Mr Abdikadir said: “Over the last two weeks, nothing substantial has gone on in the House.
“The steam of implementation is no longer calm…it is muddy and in turmoil,” he said.