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MPs get chance for second stab at elections date switch

Members of National Assembly will now take a second vote on a bill seeking to change the General Election date from August to December every fifth year.

The MPs will take the vote on October 1 when the House, which went on a long recess yesterday, resumes sitting. Should it sail through, the bill would see the MPs extending the term of the current parliament by almost four months.

The move came after Speaker Justin Muturi gave the MPs a go-ahead to vote again on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill (2015) introduced by Ugenya MP David Ochieng’ that flopped on Tuesday. On Tuesday, MPs failed to raise the requisite two-thirds majority (233 members) after only 216 supported the amendment.

The MPs will also take a vote on another bill seeking to amend Article 204 of the Constitution that would see money allocated as the Equalisation Fund moved from the mandate of the National government to the constituency level.

The bill also failed to garner the required numbers on Tuesday. The Equalisation Fund Bill introduced by Samburu East MP Lati Lelit seeks to provide money to marginalised counties. Read Muturi’s ruling yesterday: “…that the request by Hon David Ochieng’ for the House to undertake a further vote on the Motion for the Second Reading of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill be granted and consequently executed within five sitting days from the day of the first vote in terms of Standing Order 62(2), in this case being October 1, 2015 to be preceded by the further vote on the Third Reading of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill proposed by the Hon Lati Leleit.”

In his ruling, Muturi explained that for him to determine not to allow members to take a vote on the matter would be in violation of Standing Order 62(2) as well as the Parliamentary Practice that only gives the House powers to make decisions, and not the Speaker.

He, however, said in future in order for the Speaker to invoke the provisions of Standing Order 62(2) and grant a second vote, it must happen on the floor of the House immediately after the Speaker announces the result of the vote and it must also be supported by other members in rising.

The Speaker said the requirement that a certain number of members should support a member wishing to invoke the provisions of Standing Order 62(2) is paramount to avoid an abuse of the process and deter members from making frivolous and vexatious requests on the premise of invoking the Standing Order, even on motions or bills that do not need a fixed majority.

“Indeed, the Bill by Hon Ochieng’ is one of national interest and as such Kenyans should be in full knowledge and aware of the debate, and in particular, be certain of its fate at all stages to avoid eliciting debate on its existence,” he said.

Muturi’s decision came after MPs made a spirited appeal requesting him to allow them make a second vote on the bill, arguing those who opposed it were less than one-third of the House.

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