Politics and policy
Kibaki signs law barring surveys close to polls date
Posted Tuesday, June 26 2012 at 20:56
President Kibaki has signed into law a Bill barring the publication of electoral opinion polls five days ahead of a General Election.
Speaker Kenneth Marende informed MPs that the President signed into law the Publication of Electoral Opinion Polls Bill 2012 last Friday.
Mr Marende also said that Mr Kibaki signed into law the Partnership Bill 2010 and the Judicature Amendment Bill 2012.
The first spells out the relationship between public private enterprises and how profits accruing from such ventures will be shared.
The latter increases the number of judges and magistrates to be hired by the Judiciary to speed up the hearing of delayed cases. The new law will see the number of Court of Appeal Judges increased from 14 to 30.
Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale sponsored the Publication of Opinion Polls Act to regulate the polls, especially those dealing with elections.
The new law prescribes penalties of up to Sh1 million for those found to have flouted provisions of the Act. The law stops pollsters and media houses from publicising results of opinion polls a week to the elections slated for March 4, 2013.
Publishers of results of an electoral opinion poll are now required to disclose who sponsored the poll, the researcher, and the population sample from which the respondents were drawn.
Media houses, bloggers, and others are required to provide more information if the dissemination is through means other than broadcasting.
Additional details include the wording of opinion polls’ questions, the sampling methodology, and normalisation procedures used in arriving at the results.
The introduction of the Bill to Parliament was met with stiff opposition from Prime Minister Raila Odinga who said the proposals were unconstitutional.
MPs who supported the Bill said it would check pollsters releasing skewed results in order to sway public opinion in favour of preferred candidates.
On Tuesday, Mr Marende said that Attorney-General Githu Muigai had filed returns on the Bills forwarded to the President for assent in line with Section 125 of the Constitution.
Within 14 days of passage of the Bills by parliament, Prof Muigai is supposed to forward the documents to the President and report back to the House on their status 14 days after the delivery.