Several parliamentary caucus groups have agreed to build consensus on a single agreeable formula for the realization of the two thirds gender principle raising prospects of a speedy resolution that has threatened to plunge the country into a constitutional crisis. The move follows the publication of a controversial bill by the justice and legal affairs committee Chaired by Ainabkoi legislator Samuel Chepkong’a in April seeking to provide for the progressive realization of the two thirds gender principle.
Chepkonga’s Bill has been the subject of intense debate and controversy as women movements and civil society groups demanded its withdrawal claiming it undermined the spirit and letter of the Constitution in conferring affirmative action in political representation for special interests groups.
Several interest groups including MPs have come up with alternative proposals seeking to operationalize article 81(b) of the Constitution which provides that not more than two thirds of elected members shall be of the same gender.
A technical working group set up by the Attorney General Githui Muigai proposed replicating the provisions of Article 177 (b) and (c) to Articles 97 & 98 of the Constitution by way of a constitutional amendment to realize the two thirds gender principle in parliament and Senate. The proposal by the technical working group is however yet to be tabled in parliament.
A meeting of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association facilitated by the National Gender and Equality Commission saw top parliamentary brass unequivocally state their commitment to see the two thirds gender principle implemented to the letter.
Majority Leader Aden Duale called for negotiations with the justice and legal affairs committee to withdraw the controversial bill in order to build consensus.
Attorney General Githu Muigai reiterated his call for an extension of time to allow for consensus building on all proposed constitutional amendment Bills. He cautioned against opening the Constitution for piecemeal amendments saying some of the gains stood a risk of being abrogated.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi urged members of parliament to upscale advocacy on the two thirds gender principle. “This debate must leave the hotels and into the grassroots. Kenyans need to be educated about the principle and why it must be implemented” said Muturi.
KEWOPA Chairperson Cecily Mbarire said MPs would retreat to discuss further all the proposals that have been generated with a view of adopting the least invasive amendment to the constitution and the most practical and cost effective formula to implement.
NGEC Chairperson Winfred Lichuma said the Commission would soon roll out an aggressive national campaign to encourage Kenyans to create public buy-in for the support of the two thirds gender inclusion principle.
Hope as parliament agrees to build consensus on Two Thirds Gender rule