MOMBASA, Kenya, Mar 18 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on Monday announced that they are drafting a Bill that will aid the country hold referendums within the law.
According to IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati, the much-touted referendum that politicians have been calling for cannot be held without a legal framework.
He said IEBC has some few internal guidelines on how to manage a referendum, but that is not sufficient.
He also said Chapter 5 of the Elections Act talks about a referendum, but the details are scanty.
“What we have now is a situation whereby, as we speak, the Thirdway Alliance has submitted to the Commission a petition under the title Punguza Mzigo Initiative Referendum Bill and signatures,” he said.
“We are looking at a situation where it is now real that Kenyans want to go through this process of a referendum.”
He said it is now necessary that IEBC engages the National Assembly to develop the Bill.
He spoke on the sidelines of a two-day meeting between IEBC and National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.
“This is the only committee that we can sit down with and prepare that Bill and take it to Parliament. We are not going to share out the details of that Bill, you will learn about them once it comes to Parliament,” he said.
Chebukati said they do not want to have a situation whereby they encounter legal disputes as they go on with the process of a referendum.
“The Commission, of course, already has some bit of administrative rules that we have developed for our own use, but that is not sufficient. So it is necessary that for avoidance of any dispute that may come, we have the law in place,” he said.
William Cheptumo, the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chairperson said the Commission is briefing them on the Bill they are developing in terms of laws relating to referenda.
“I want to be very clear that there is discussions in the country about a referendum, but our purpose of this meeting here is not to discuss the referendum. It is actually to formulate a law which will be used in the event when Kenyans agree to go to a referendum,” said Cheptumo.
He said as it is now, the referendum cannot take place due to lack of a law.
“We want to have a law in place that when Kenyans decide to go on a referendum, we do not encounter challenges,” said Cheptumo.