MPs Should Use Article 261(2) And Give Kenya Water-Tight Laws


It would be naive to assume that the future of this country doe not now lie in the hands of 222 individuals as the country heads into the last month before the first anniversary of the new Constitution. And pressed of time to beat set deadlines, Kenya may end up with bogus laws that may water down the benefits of the Constitution promulgated in August last year.

Parliament has the option of using the transition clauses in the Constitution and extend the enactment of some of the bills by another 12 months instead of hurriedly enacting laws that will contain major flaws. Given the time remaining to pass over 15 bills, MPs have better save things country from the hands of “reformists” who may rush to the courts and eventually force the country into an early election.

According to Article 261 of the Constitution, if Parliament fails to pass a law within the stipulated timeline, a citizen may petition the High Court to order Parliament to ensure the required law is enacted. If Parliament fails to heed the High Court’s orders, the Chief Justice shall ask the President to dissolve it immediately.

As argued earlier Kenya cannot afford to bungle another election given that the country is yet to resolve the aftermath of the 2007 elections that led to the death of over one thousand people and displacement of hundred of thousands others some of whom are still stuck in camps.

Through past experience, Kenyans are witnesses to situations where Parliament has hurriedly passed crucial bills that have required amendments immediately they have been enacted. Everyone recalls the passing of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act which failed to define clearly the structures of government leading to wrangles within the coalition government for months.

Another reason is that in its 3 and a half years of existence, the 10th Parliament has passed less than 40 bills and it only a miracle, in my opinion, can help them clear out the current intray. Many at times, Parliament has been forced to adjourn early due to lack of business or lack of quorum.

There are key legislations that must be enacted before Kenya goes to the polls in 2012 and I do not see the danger of us pushing the deadlines to August 2012 and ensure that these laws are watertight. Key among them are those to deal with elections, leadership and devolution.

For instance, there is still no law on dual citizenship and yet the Constitution guarantees the participation of every Kenyan in an election. There is no law guiding how Kenyans in the diaspora can register as voters and how they will be able to vote in the next election.

There is no law on how elections shall ensure that marginalized groups that include women, youth, persons with disabilities and marginalized communities are ably represented in Parliament.

We have no laws on the establishment, administration and governance of the County governments even if the Constitution allows the Central government to manage them until they are formed. There is even no talk on the enactment of a law on the vetting of those who want to seek leadership position as per Chapter Six of the Constitution

My point is that Kenyans cannot fully trust these MPs to deliver proper laws within the short period they have and the safest route is to extend the deadlines.

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One thought on “MPs Should Use Article 261(2) And Give Kenya Water-Tight Laws

  1. You do paint a very dim picture Oliver!so if we extend the deadlines, will that impact on the date of the elections?
    ines, will that impact on the date of the elections?

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