In a memorandum dated December 9, 2022, addressed to the Speakers of the Bicameral Parliament, President William Ruto proposed an amendment to the Constitution enacted in 2010.
The President wants members of the two Houses to spearhead the process after the Supreme Court in the BBI case affirmed that the Head of State lacks authority to initiate changes to the Constitution.
Ruto, 100 days into his tenure as the country’s 5th president after a closely contested State House race on August 9, has proposed the creation of an office of the official leader of opposition, to cure what he says was a constitutional shortfall on the full post-election fate of the minority side.
He proposes that Parliament considers an amendment to Chapter 9 of the Constitution to establish the office of official leader of opposition, whose functions will be provided for in subsequent laws enacted by the House.
According to the President, such an office would institutionalise governance, strengthen oversight and deepen democracy in the country.
To enhance Parliamentary oversight of the Executive, the President proposes amendments to the Parliamentary standing orders to facilitate the participation of Cabinet Secretaries or Chief Administrative Secretaries in Parliamentary proceedings, and enable them respond to questions posed by Members of Parliament in their capacity as the people’s representatives and in execution of their oversight roles.
And to resolve the long-standing stalemate on the implementation of the gender equity principle, Ruto wants the 13th Parliament to initiate amendments to the country’s supreme law, to establish a formula that will guide the computation of the gender ratio in the National Assembly.
That formula, in a proposed amendment to Article 97(3) of the Constitution, according to the President, should be based only on the number of members elected in the National Assembly from the constituencies and counties.
That computation, based on the current numbers in the House, would have 97 MPs as a third of the 290 elected MPs, adding on to the 47 affirmative seats, popularly known as the Woman Representatives.
With 26 elected female MPs in single member constituencies, the deficit of 24 woman MPs would be bridged through nomination.
The extra cost, according to the President, would be a smaller price to pay for compliance with the Constitution and resolve a 12-year standoff.
The President also voiced his support for the Constitution Amendment Bill currently in Parliament, seeking to entrench the National Government Constituency Development Fund, the Senate Oversight and National Government Affirmative Action Funds in the Constitution.
This amendment, he says, will help Parliamentarians comply with the law, instead of employing mischievous legalities and technicalities to deal with constitutional issues.
The proposed constitutional amendments, according to the President, should be pursued without taking the Kenyan electorate through a referendum that is potentially divisive and disruptive months after the country came from a General Election.
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