MPs back election date change from August to December - Daily Nation

Majority MPs back election date change from August to December

Thursday August 6 2015

Ugenya MP David Ochieng. MPs were in favour of

Ugenya MP David Ochieng. MPs were in favour of a Bill moved by Mr Ochieng that proposes to extend their current term by four months. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION REPORTER
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MPs were Wednesday split over whether to change the 2017 elections from August to December as amending the Constitution to effect this might require a referendum.

The majority of lawmakers, however, were in favour of a Bill by Ugenya MP David Ochieng that proposes to extend their current term by four months.

The Bill proposes to move the date of the elections from the second Tuesday of August to the third Monday of December.

However, several hurdles that include a possible referendum would have to be overcome as a change in the poll date would extend the President’s term, which can only be done through a plebiscite.

There would also be the prospect of having to appoint a new electoral commission or extending the tenure of the current members, whose term ends in November.

Majority Leader Aden Duale, although supporting an extension of MPs’ term in office, called for caution, saying any date change was likely to attract legal challenges that would drag on until the elections, which is an emotive issue in the country.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi would also have to rule on whether the change would require a referendum.

Mr Ochieng said some of the reasons for his proposal were that this would allow time for budget making, which continues beyond August.

“By August, budgets of ministries are yet to be completed, (and) hence there would be no funding for aspects of the election, including security. We need to move the elections to December, by which time the budget is done,” he said.

Mr Ochieng also cited the likelihood of an August election affecting national examinations. He said in case of a presidential election run-off, it would spill beyond August, affecting the KCPE and KCSE examinations, which start in October and November respectively.

Should the loser in a presidential election file a petition in the Supreme Court, it would have to be decided in 14 days, and the election held in 30 days should the judges order a rerun.

MPs who opposed the Bill, mostly from the Opposition side, said elections should be held at the earliest opportunity because of the many challenges facing the country.

Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma said the Jubilee administration should not be allowed to stay in office a single day longer than stipulated by the Constitution, claiming it had condoned corruption and had failed to deal with insecurity.

He also accused his colleagues of seeking a four-month extension to earn more salaries.

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