Politics

Duale: Law on referendum unclear, President can interfere

Duale: Law on referendum unclear, President can interfere
  • The Garissa Town member of Parliament cautioned on Friday that the gap presents uncertainty on when and how to address critical issues in the Constitution.
  • Duale noted existence of multiple proposals including the Building Bridges Initiative, the Ugatuzi Initiative and the Punguza Mizigo bill but said it is not clear whether a vote will be conducted for each one.

Majority Leader Aden Duale has urged the National Assembly to urgently address the lacuna in law following proposals for a review of the Constitution.

The Garissa Town member of Parliament cautioned on Friday that the gap presents uncertainty on when and how to address critical issues in the Constitution.

“Even with ongoing initiatives aimed at relooking at the Constitution, the country does not have a referendum law to address issues that various stakeholders want tackled,” he said.

SINGLE VOTE

The MP noted existence of multiple proposals including the Building Bridges Initiative, the Ugatuzi Initiative and the Punguza Mizigo bill but said it is not clear whether a vote will be conducted for each one.

“This could be a very expensive and disruptive affair. It is prudent that a law should be crafted to guide amalgamation of all of these moves into a single vote,” he said.

He spoke during the fourth session of an engagement forum with members of the Kenya Editors Guild, jointly organised by the National Assembly leadership and the Media Council of Kenya, at Ciala Resort in Kisumu County.

TIMELINES

Mr Duale also underlined the need to introduce timelines requiring the President to present the Act to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and for the commission to roll out a referendum vote after the National Assmebly gives approvals.

“The President can decide to sabotage the process and water down the popular initiative,” he cautioned.

He further noted lack of a clear guideline for the IEBC when it comes to verification of signatures.

Uriri MP Mark Nyamita reiterated that a law must put in place for the elections agency to make public the process of verifying signatures.

“It is incomprehensible that the Okoa Kenya Initiative, which was fronted by ODM, failed to gather one million signatures while Ekuru Aukot was cleared through his Punguza Mizigo Initiative,” he said.

Homa Bay Town MP Opondo Kaluma said there is no clarity on who is to introduce the bill on the floor of the National Assembly after passage by county assemblies.

MEDIA'S ROLE

Speaker Justin Muturi challenged media houses to assign specific reporters to the National Assembly to ensure they grasp Standing Orders and accurately relay information.

“We do not want misrepresenting facts while relaying them to the general public,” he said.

Kenya Editors Guild Chairman Churchill Otieno asked MPs to defend media freedom so that journalists perform their duties effectively.

“The independence and freedom of the media should be guaranteed for them to continue putting into account various organs of the government,” he said.