Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenyan president backs controversial electoral law changes

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Mombasa (Kenya) –  Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday expressed strong support for amendments to electoral laws being debated in parliament.

Kenyatta, who spoke in Mombasa, said the laws will fill the gaps identified by the Supreme Court when it annulled the Aug. 8, Presidential elections.

He promised to sign into law the controversial amendments that have sparked criticism once approved by the Parliament.

“I will not hesitate, for even a minute, to sign the new amendments into law once presented to me after debate and approval by parliament,” Kenyatta said.

The proposed changes to the electoral laws by the ruling party Jubilee has created division among Kenyans ahead of repeat polls slated for Oct. 26.

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While some, in particular Kenyatta’s supporters, endorsed the changes, those supporting opposition leader Raila Odinga opposed the amendments of being a rigging plot.

One of the radical changes Jubilee proposes is that if only one candidate remains in a fresh presidential election, he will be declared president-elect without polls being held.

The bill, currently in Parliament, further proposes a custodial sentence of up to 15 years for any electoral officials, who knowingly refuses to sign, submits incomplete forms or willfully alters or falsifies documents relating to elections.

It also proposes to strip the powers of announcing the winner of a presidential poll from the chairman of the electoral commission to any other commissioner.

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According to sections of the proposed new laws, the IEBC would be required to live stream the election results but they would not form the basis of declaring the winner, but only for public consumption, while the results would be declared manually based on paper returns.

Kenyatta said it was necessary to remove the lacuna in law cited by the Supreme Court in order to ensure the same gaps did not force the Court to deliver a similar dubious verdict in future.

A select committee of both houses of parliament is due to present the amendments to parliament this week for debate and approval. (Xinhua/NAN)

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