NGEC urges Uhuru to return Two Thirds Gender Bill to the House
The National Gender and Equality Commission NGEC has advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to return the defeated Two Thirds Gender Bill in parliament and forestall a possible early dissolution of the 11th parliament. In an advisory dated May 11, 2016 to the President, the Commission reiterated that Parliament has no option but to enact a legislative framework that will guarantee implementation of the not more than two thirds gender principle on or before 27th August 2016.
The Constitution of Kenya Amendment No. 4 Bill of 2015 also known as the Two Thirds Gender Bill failed to sail through during division of the House on May 5, 2016 in a revote ordered by Speaker Justin Muturi having failed to pass in the initial vote on April 27,2016. In the initial division, the Bill got 195 votes out of the minimum 233 votes required to pass a Constitution amendment Bill. During the second round, the Bill garnered 178 votes and the Speaker ruled the motion negatived.
According to NGEC, the failure by the National Assembly to pass the Bill was unfortunate as the matter for consideration was that of implementing the Constitution rather than a choice of passing or rejecting the Bill. In October 2012, the Supreme Court of Kenya directed that legislative measures for giving effect to the one-third to two –thirds gender principle under article 81(b) of the Constitution and in relation to the National Assembly and Senate be taken by 27 August 2015. Parliament was unable to meet the deadline last year and extended by one year to 27 August 2016. The failure to pass the Bill means the country still does not have a framework and creates fodder for a constitutional crisis.
The Commission now seeks the Speaker of the National Assembly to invoke the provisions of Standing order No. 1 and introduce the bill under special consideration without waiting for six months because of tight time schedule . The Commission also wants the Bill introduced in the Senate to begin going through the stages as provided in article 256 of the Constitution which requires ninety days to lapse between the 1st and 2nd readings for constitutional amendment bills.