The Bicameral Parliament’s Speakers were the recipients of a note from President William Ruto dated December 9, 2022, in which he proposed a change to the 2010 Constitution.
After the Supreme Court ruled in the BBI case that the Head of State lacks the competence to propose constitutional amendments, the President wants members of the two Houses to lead the process.
After winning a closely contested race for the State House on August 9, Ruto took office as the country’s fifth president. To address what he claims is a constitutional gap regarding the post-election fate of the minority side, Ruto has proposed the establishment of an office of the official leader of opposition.
He suggests that the House of Representatives consider amending Chapter 9 of the Constitution to create the position of formal leader of the opposition, whose duties will be outlined in later laws passed by the House.
The President claimed that establishing a position would institutionalize governance, bolster oversight, and improve democracy throughout the nation.
The President suggests changes to the Parliamentary standing orders to make it easier for Cabinet Secretaries or Chief Administrative Secretaries to participate in Parliamentary proceedings and give answers to questions posed by Members of Parliament in their capacities as the people’s representatives and in the course of carrying out their oversight roles.
Ruto also wants the 13th Parliament to start amending the country’s supreme law to create a formula that would direct the calculation of the gender ratio in the National Assembly in order to break the long-running impasse over the application of the gender equity principle.
According to the President, this formula in a proposed modification to Article 97(3) of the Constitution should be based solely on the number of National Assembly members elected from the constituencies and counties.
Based on the existing composition of the House, that calculation would result in 97 members representing a third of the 290 elected members, plus the 47 affirmative seats, also referred to as the Woman Representatives.
The gap of 24 female MPs would be filled by nomination if there were 26 elected female MPs in single member seats.
The President claimed that the additional expense would be a minor price to pay for adhering to the Constitution and ending a 12-year dispute.
The President also expressed support for a bill in Parliament that would amend the Constitution to include funds for the National Government Constituency Development Fund, Senate Oversight, and National Government Affirmative Action Funds.
He claims that this change will make it easier for lawmakers to follow the law rather than resorting to sneaky legalese and technicalities to resolve constitutional disputes.
According to the President, the proposed constitutional revisions ought to be implemented rather than subjecting Kenya’s people to a possibly polarizing and disruptive referendum months after the nation’s General Election.