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Reduce number of MPs by half, clerics propose

Seth Onyango @SethManex

Religious leaders have called for the reduction of Members of Parliament from the current 416 to 209. The proposal is among a raft of reforms the Dialogue Reference Group wants implemented to tame the ballooning wage bill.

The group, which brings together all faith institutions, has proposed that the National Assembly comprise 150 constituency representatives, 47 woman reps and 12 special members.

“The provision under this proposal will be structured to fulfil the gender, youth and persons with disabilities representation requirements,” said Lillian Palpan of the National Council Churches of Kenya (NCCK) North Rift region.

She argued that Parliament, as currently constituted, is bloated and that Kenyans were over-represented by the many layers of representation.

Palpan, who spoke at Ufungamano House in Nairobi yesterday, also proposed amendments to the Constitution to increase the size of the Executive.

“There is need for constitutional reforms to provide for an Executive that includes the president, deputy president, prime minister and two deputy prime ministers,” she said.

Palpan argued that this would ensure the presidency does not become authoritarian and remains accountable to Parliament through the prime minister.

The group also wants the law changed to allocate an office to the Opposition by enabling runner-up in the presidential election to serve as the leader of opposition in the National Assembly. Similarly, it proposed that the running mate of the runner-up becomes the Majority Leader in the Senate.

Meanwhile, clerics have renewed push for the government to implement the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report and the Ndung’u Land reports as part of a national healing process.

The religious leaders argued that lasting cohesion could only be achieved if historical injustices are addressed. TJRC recommended that authorities investigate and revoke illegally acquired land to restore public confidence.

It inquired into unlawful allocation of public land and made recommendations for appropriate ways to restore illegally allocated lands to the public.

The religious leaders have proposed that a task force dubbed, National Transitional Authority (NTA), be set up to address grievances and violations against Kenyans since 2008. This includes electoral-related violence witnessed in 2013 and 2017 where several people died.

Catholic Archbishop Martin Kivuva expressed the need for the country to build on the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

“The handshake has enhanced calm in the nation, which portends a golden opportunity for the nation to reflect on and find solutions to the perennial conflicts that emerge at every election,” he said.

It is on that premise that the Dialogue Reference Group wants the government to address historical injustices that have fuelled conflict.

In its preliminary findings, the TJRC Report found that between 1895 and 1963, the colonial administration stole large amounts of highly productive land from the local population, and removed communities from their ancestral lands.

The same view is supported by the Ndung’u Land report which indicated that land grabbing had its genesis in pre-independence Kenya when a small group of white settlers were allocated 20 per cent of Kenya’s landmass consisting of the best agricultural land.

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