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MPs defy Uhuru and reject Gender Bill

MPs on Thursday defied President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga and rejected a law that would have implemented the two-third gender rule in Parliament.

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had separately tried to rally MPs to pass the law proposed by Majority Leader Aden Duale.

Their first attempt 10 days ago came a cropper after MPs voted against the Bill and on Thursday they continued the campaign which also failed to see the Bill through.

President Kenyatta issued a statement through State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu urging the MPs to pass the law.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta urges the MPs to turn up in large numbers at this crucial vote to pass the Bill into law, to comply with the constitutional provisions in Articles 27(8) and 81(b) on the composition of elective offices in Kenya. Passage of the legislation will secure gender equity in Government,” said the statement.

Mr Odinga personally went to the National Assembly and sat with his daughter Rosemary in the gallery but the MPs from both the Government and Opposition sides ensured the vote was defeated.

They voted 178 for the Bill and 16 against with five abstentions but the Bill required 233 MPs, two-thirds of the membership, to pass.

Some MPs stayed away, opting to watch the House proceedings live on TV.

Mr Odinga accused Jubilee of sabotaging the Bill although Cord MPs were among those who voted against it.

“They spoke openly in support of the gender Bill, but the speaker and the Jubilee side of the coalition were under instructions to ensure the Bill was defeated,” he said.


Mr Odinga also had unkind words for National assembly Speaker Justin Muturi saying he had failed to properly recognize him from the speaker’s gallery, where he was among guests who had sat to witness what would have been a historic vote to ensure the gender rule was implemented.

Mr Muturi reportedly recognised a delegation of Ugandan MPs and other high profile guests but never mentioned Mr Odinga by name, appearing to group him together with other members of the public.

It was not clear whether Mr Muturi was aware that Mr Odinga was in the public gallery as he failed to correct the omission even after the House broke into laughter over the glaring omission.

Mr Odinga was also unhappy with the House leadership for failing to allow him to address the media within the precincts of Parliament, forcing him to do it outside the main entrance on Parliament Road saying: “I have been in this Parliament longer than the Speaker.”

He said apart from being a former Prime Minister, he was also a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and deserved to be allowed to give an interview to the media within the compound of Parliament.

The opposition leader said the failure of the gender Bill was not the end of the road because there were several other options to ensure the rights of women were respected.

“This is a sad day not only for the women but for the people of Kenya. Gender issues are not only for women but men as well and we did not expect it would come to this, that Parliament would be unable to get the required two thirds majority to pass this crucial Bill,” he said and accused jubilee leaders of double speak, saying they were unable to use their “tyranny of numbers” on the gender Bill, which they usually employed when “jubilee interests were at stake.”

He also blamed President Kenyatta for failing to marshal the required 233 MPs, when it came up for voting for the first time last week, saying he had taken dozens of MPs with him on his tour of Kisii County, denying Parliament the requisite numbers to have it approved.

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