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President Kenyatta backs controversial Electoral Law changes | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Anti-riot police beef up outside the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) offices during the bi-weekly protest by opposition supporters in Nairobi. Thousands of supporters of Kenya’s main opposition party, National Super Alliance (NASA) on Monday returned to the streets of Nairobi and other major towns to protest against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of Oct. 26 repeat presidential polls. XINHUA PHOTO - CHARLES ONYANGO

President Kenyatta backs controversial Electoral Law changes

MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday expressed strong support for amendments to electoral laws being debated in parliament, saying the laws will fill the gaps identified by the Supreme Court when it annulled the August elections.

Kenyatta who spoke in Mombasa vowed to sign into law the controversial amendments that have sparked criticism once approved by 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.

While some, in particular Kenyatta’s supporters, endorsed the changes, those supporting opposition leader Raila Odinga accuse 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.

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.

           

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