Friday, February 17, 2012

Kenya: Proposal for recall amendment in new constitution

Here. Some interesting details, including limiting the recall to only two out of five years in an MPs term.
The shock to the MPs will come in the many proposals to the Elections Act, especially, the procedure of recalling non-performing MPs.
MPs had put amendments in the law blocking recall within the first two years, and within the last year, thereby giving the public just two years within which to recall them. The MPs had also connived to delay such recalls by subjecting the petitions for recall to the scrutiny of the court, before a poll to kick them out is carried out.
But the government lawyers have termed the law as it exists unconstitutional.
"It is the right of the people to initiate a recall election, and if all requirements are met, a recall election should be held," the KLRC brief reads. "The Constitution gives power to the electorate to be able to initiate a recall election any time after the election of an MP. As such, a recall election cannot be limited to only two out of five years of the life of an MP in Parliament."
The argument is that the sovereign power rests with the people, and because MPs are representatives of the people, they should not deny those who chose them the chance to exercise their right to decide who they want to represent them in the august House.
When MPs mutilated the law, they argued that if the clause is let loose, their opponents would be on perpetual campaigns, and it would be an election cycle throughout the five-year term. The MPs had also said that if they survived a recall vote, then, they should be left to serve the remainder of their term.
"An unsuccessful contestant of an election will be a member of the electorate like any other citizen, and as such, should be able to file an election (recall) petition," the government lawyers noted in their brief to Parliament.
The brief also proposes the scrapping of the fee for a recall petition. The Act prescribes a fee for Sh500,000 for a recall against an MP. According to the lawyers, it made nonsense of the law to peg a constitutional right on a fee.
It would be interesting to see if MPs will acquiesce to this recommendation.

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