JUSTICE and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo has said he will now advise the two principals that the next general election should be held in March 2013. Mutula supported the position taken by the High Court last week that elections should be held within 60 days of the end of this five year parliamentary term January 14, 2013. On Sunday Prime Minister Raila Odinga asked Kenyans to give the coalition government time to consult before announcing the date for the next elections.
He said the coalition management committee was expected to deliberate on the date following the recent court ruling before presenting their recommendations to the two principals for approval. “This issue should not cause anxiety but we have to be patient give us time to consult with Kibaki and advise the country on the appropriate date for the polls” Raila said at a funeral in Homa Bay. He said the recent court ruling over the date of the next polls merely interpreted the constitution and squarely placed the final decision on the two principals.
Yesterday Mutula told the Star that holding elections in March next year would give the IEBC time to prepare for elections. “As the minister in charge of elections, I will personally prefer a general election in March next year. There are many issues which need to be thoroughly addressed before we hold an election,” Mutula said on the phone yesterday. The minister said he will withdraw a Bill he tabled in Parliament last November seeking to move the election from August 14, the date stipulated in the constitution, to December 19 once he is sure that no-one is lodging an appeal against the High Court ruling delivered last Friday.
The High Court ruled that the next general election will be held in March 2013. But Kibaki and Raila can still dissolve the coalition government in writing if they want the election to be held in 2012. “There is a chance we can do the elections in December but that will be expensive. There are many issues such as boundaries, voter registration, electronic voting, controversies on the census results that we need to conclusively address before the next election, and to me March next year is the perfect time,” said Mutula.
The minister said the High Court ruling had failed to address key issues which the Constitutional (Amendment Bill) 2011 which is before Parliament was seeking to iron out. Mutula said even if the date is resolved for the 2012 elections, the same problem will crop up again in 2017 unless there are certain constitutional amendments. He added that Article 260 of constitution which sets the financial calender will continue posing legal challenges unless it is amended as proposed in his Bill.
Other issues addressed by the Bill included amending Articles 97 and 98 to make the one-third gender requirement attainable. The Bill also contains an amendment suspending Article 89 (4) of the constitution so that 80 new constituencies can participate in the elections without any legal challenge.