National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi dismissed a petition by Chief Justice David Maraga calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament for failing to enact the Two-Thirds gender rule.
In a letter to the Head of State, CJ Maraga said Parliament has refused to comply with the High Court order to enact legislation required to implement the two-thirds gender rule for over nine years.
“If Parliament fails to enact legislation in accordance with an order under clause (6)(b), the Chief Justice shall advise the President to dissolve Parliament and the President shall dissolve Parliament,” says the CJ.
“It is my constitutional duty to advise you, the President of the Republic of Kenya, which I hereby do, to dissolve Parliament.”
But in a rejoinder, Speaker Muturi said the petition to dissolve parliament is an unwarranted attack on the August House.
“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. 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 said in a statement.
The Speaker also proposed that the issue of two-thirds gender rule should be subjected to a referendum over 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 further argued that leaving the issue of gender parity to Parliament would not be the “direct expression of the will of the people” and would also mean a higher number of legislators.
“At present, if we were to nominate women legislators to comply with the two-thirds gender principle in Parliament, we would have to nominate up to 100 women legislators,” said Mr. Muturi.
“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.”
The Speaker further pointed out that the by-elections to be held if Parliament was dissolved would also not guarantee gender parity.
“In fact, dissolution of Parliament will necessitate a by-election in all constituencies, nearly akin to a General Election… Even more fundamentally, there is no particular guarantee that were by-elections to be conducted throughout the country under the extant First Past the Post electoral system, the obtaining electoral results would be gender compliant,” he said.