By Mutethia Mberia
Lion Place Nairobi, Kenya; July,16,2019.
A high court ruling over the two-third gender principle, over two years on, continues to draw opposing positions from players across in the political space in the country. The ruling stems from a suit by the Katiba Institute against Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) seeking implementation of the Constitutional provision on the gender rule. Its determination delivered on 20 th April 2017 in favour of the Petitioner, has since been a cause of difficulty, largely owing to lack of an enacted piece of legislation to actualize the requirement.
Interpretations and implications have further caused a stir. To some, the determination was purposefully dispensed, ill-intended, bears irreconcilable contradictions, offends the free will of the people as enshrined under article 38 of the Constitution and is unenforceable in the current circumstances. To a host of others, it is the right direction towards placing the responsibility where it ought to be.
It is the magnitude of the foregoing, that the IEBC in collaboration with ORPP convened the National Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) on Thursday 11 th July 2019, to deliberate and formulate a way forward on the matter. Presentations made by ORPP’s Juliet Murimi, Bonface Olwal and IEBC’s Salome Oyugi, on the numerous provisions of the Constitution, the reading and the legal interpretations of the ruling were the premise on which participants anchored their deliberations. “We don’t want the burden of implementing this tricky directive left on political parties as honourable court ruled under disposition 85 (1), the reason as to why we are all here as concerned institutions led by IEBC to dissect the matter”, Registrar Anne Nderitu said in her opening remarks. However, she implored on all to purpose putting the needs of interest groups fore in all realms of life as a matter of responsibility not a legal obligation, a sure way for a cohesive and peaceful co-existence. Prof. Abdi Guliye, a Commissioner of IEBC, spearheading the deliberations highlighted a number of proposals he termed as progressive alternatives as efforts to realize the principle. “Since we are in this together, as IEBC we seek your indulgence in coming with solutions at this critical time of our election cycle”, the Commissioner urged.
After lengthy deliberations, members tasked the PPLC’s Legislation Sub-Committee with administrative support of IEBC, within three weeks, to work out modalities of actualizing the agreed way forward. Some of the possible ways agreed on were to: seek appropriate further legal interpretation of the ruling, consider and exhaust other appeal mechanisms that may be, convene a further inter-agency consultative meeting between Judiciary and the Parliamentary Constitutional Implementation Committee, seek for possible staying orders to implement the ruling as well as consolidate a joint memoranda as the position on the matter by the respective political parties’ National Executive Councils.
The PPLCs is a Committee established under section 38 of the Political Parties Act operational at national and county level to provide a dialogue platform between the ORPP, IEBC and political parties.
Participants drawn from ORPP, IEBC and political parties in a group photo during the meeting