National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has objected calls by Chief Justice David Maraga for President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament.
The President of the Supreme Court of Kenya had earlier advised the Head of State to dissolve the August House over its failure to enact legislation required to implement the two-thirds gender rule.
But in a lengthy statement to newsrooms, Muturi now says the gender rule should be subjected to a referendum due to the cost of implementing it.
“Given the current efforts and initiatives to amend the Constitution that are currently underway such as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), the issue on two-thirds gender rule can be subjected to a referendum in the event the same happens,” he said.
“Owing to the cost implications of implementing the two-thirds gender rule through other mechanisms such as nomination and topping up, it is prudent if the matter were to be subjected to the people once more for a reevaluation or to propose ways of achieving two-thirds gender rule.”
Muturi said Parliament should not be used as a punching bag, adding that it was unrealistic for the CJ to call for its dissolution.
“We must not lose sight of the real challenges in implementing this matter and turn Parliament into a punching bag on account of gender parity,” he added.
“The clamour for dissolution of the current Parliament on account of failure to enact the two-third gender legislation is at the very least, unrealistic.”
He went on, “Given that legislators decide through voting in Parliament, this would in essence mean that there are an additional 100 votes of nominated women legislators, yet these legislators are not a direct expression of the will of the people. That elected legislators wield more legitimacy relative to nominated legislators can be deduced from article 123 of the Constitution with respect to voting in the Senate.”
Maraga had indicated that his advisory is based on six petitions filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) , Margaret Toili, Fredrick Gichanga Mbugua’h, Stephen Owako, Johnn Wangai, Aoko Bernard and David Sudi.
The petitioners had faulted parliament over failure to pass the laws in accordance with Article 27(3) read together with Articles 81(b) and 100 of the 2010 Constitution despite four Court orders.
In his statement, Maraga said Parliament should be held accountable for failing the Kenyan people.
“Your Excellency, the two-thirds gender rule is an acronym for the constitutional imperative which prohibits any form of discrimination in the appointive and elective positions in our country on the basis of one’s gender. It is grounded on the declaration in Article 27(3) of the Constitution that Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres, ” said Maraga.
“Let us endure pain if only to remind ourselves that, as a country, being a democracy that has chosen to be governed by the rule of law, we must say no to impunity and hold everyone accountable for their actions or omissions.
“Your Excellency, it is my constitutional duty to advise you, the President of the Republic of Kenya, which I hereby do, to dissolve Parliament in accordance with Article 261(7).”
Maraga’s advise has elicited mixed reactions on social media with a section of Kenyan leaders supporting and others giving divergent views.
I have consistently believed in the mainstreaming of marginalized&minority groups including women&persons living with disabilities.CJ Maraga’s Advise to President has come at the right time to help the country refocus herself on the respect&full implementation of the Constitution
— KIPCHUMBA MURKOMEN, E.G.H (@kipmurkomen) September 21, 2020
CJ Maraga’s advice to the President to dissolve parliament is momentous. Probably the most significant and historic from a constitutional standpoint. How we apply foundational principles and values of the rule of law and constitutionalism is now the big test.
— James Orengo (@orengo_james) September 21, 2020
The message by CJ for dissolution is premature. Article 216(6) requires an order to be ISSUED. before the clause(7) is invoked . Sen Farhiya & yours truly have a constitutional amendment bill on two thirds gender rule at second reading . The president should RTS the advisory
— Sen Mutula KilonzoJR (@SenMutula) September 21, 2020