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Economy

Deputy governor, 269 MPs’ jobs at risk as group meets referendum threshold

Ekuru Aukot
Thirdway Alliance party leader Ekuru Aukot. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL 

The proposal to cut the number of MPs and abolish deputy governors position has met the threshold for constitutional change, the electoral agency has ruled, laying ground for a referendum.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said it had verified that 1,222,541 registered voters have supported the proposal unveiled in February by the Third Way Alliance.

The Constitution requires at least one million to put the referendum push in motion.

Under the Punguza Mzigo (constitutional amendment) initiative, the party led by lawyer Ekuru Aukot, wants the number of MPs cut from 416 at the moment to 147.

The party also wants the positions for deputy governors and women representatives to be abolished altogether “to cut the cost of running Parliament to Sh5 billion annually down from current Sh36.8 billion”.

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“This is to notify the public and all stakeholders that Punguza Mzigo Initiative has met the requisite threshold as required by Article 257 of the constitution,” IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said in a statement.

“The commission shall submit the draft Bill to each of the 47 county assemblies for consideration within three months from the date of submission to the commission.”

The Punguza Mzigo push also seeks to increase the equitable shareable revenue of counties from 15 to 35 per cent of last audited accounts approved by Parliament.

If the party gets its way, Kenya would have a one-off seven-year term President and abolish nominations to both the county assemblies and the Senate.

Dr Aukot’s party also wants the Senate to become an Upper House of Parliament with veto powers over the decisions made by the National Assembly.

Once the 47 counties go through the proposals, it will be submitted to the National Assembly and eventually to the Senate, setting ground for a national referendum if passed.

The move comes as another group, the Building Bridges Initiative formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga is also going around the country to seek views of Kenyans on possible constitutional changes.

The IEBC estimates that a referendum will cost at least Sh12 billion.

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