Lobby takes gender rule war to the EAC The Centre for Multi-Party Democracy - Kenya, which was among groups enjoined in the case seeking an opinion from the Supreme Court on the principle of gender representation
in the National Assembly and the Senate, also intends to take the matter to the Arusha-based East African Court of Justice.
It is seeking the court’s interpretation of affirmative action provisions in the 2010 Constitution. In the petition sent to the EAC secretary-general, Dr Richard Sezibera, on Tuesday, the lobby accuses judges in the highest court in the land of giving “incorrect interpretation of the gender provisions”. It also accuses Parliament of failing to treat the matter with the seriousness it deserves. The issue involves the enactment of laws that will provide realisation of the two-thirds rule as required by the Constitution of Kenya. “The majority opinion was that we should achieve the requirement progressively and this should be by August 2015.
This opinion provides neither a clear formula nor a guideline as to how we will achieve this requirement progressively. In addition to other articles in the Kenya Constitution, this right is firmly anchored in our Bill of Rights under Chapter Four of the Constitution, which chapter cannot be amended except by a referendum,” reads the petition signed by the lobby’s executive director Njeri Kabeberi and chairman Justin Muturi.
The group says the dissenting view by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was the correct interpretation of the clauses on gender and favoured submissions by non-governmental organisations on how to implement the two-thirds gender rule in the March 4 elections without amending the Constitution. They want the EAC secretary-general to invoke provisions of the East African Community Treaty on the mandate of this office to censure Kenya for what they say is failure to implement the gender requirement in the coming elections, the first under the current Constitution.
Article 29 (1) of the treaty gives the secretary-general the mandate to take action against a country that fails to fulfil an obligation under the agreement or infringed on a provision in it. In the petition, the lobby says: “Your Excellency, in the last 49 years Kenya has been a democracy with regular elections, we have only had fifty (50) women elected in the National Assembly, in our opinion, therefore, progressive attainment may take another five decades given this record.”