National Assembly risks dissolution over gender law

Wednesday March 29 2017

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The National Assembly risks dissolution in June in the absence of the gender parity law.

This follows a High Court verdict on Wednesday by Justice John Mativo, who asked Parliament to legislate the gender rule in 60 days.

If this is not done, anyone can write to the Chief Justice to advise President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament.

The judge declared the National Assembly and the Senate have failed to enact legislation on the principle that not more than two thirds of members of both houses shall be of the same gender.

This was a violation of the rights of women, he said.

The judge said that “the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate have failed, refused or neglected to perform their constitutional mandate.”

He said the Constitution was clear on the question of equality between men and women as well as the steps that were to be taken to give full effect to the realisation of the two-third gender rule.

Three lobbies sued speakers of both Houses and the attorney-general in September last year.

They are Centre for Rights Education & Awareness, Community Advocacy & Awareness Trust and the Kenya National Human Rights Commission.

They sued to protest against the failure to enact the disputed legislation necessary for the implementation of the gender rule even after the deadline elapsed on August 27, 2016.

In 2015, High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi ordered the attorney-general and the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution to prepare and table the law for legislation.

The Supreme Court had directed Parliament in December 2012 to have a framework on the two-third gender rule by August 27, 2015.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Federation of Women Lawyers were listed as interested parties in the case while the National Gender and Equality Commission and the Law Society of Kenya joined the case as friends of the court.

Following the delivery of the verdict, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale criticised the judge for the decision on the adherence to the gender rule.

Mr Duale said there are not enough days between now and the General Election for the Constitution to be changed.