Jubilee law change to let Uhuru advertise freely

Leader of Majority Aden Duale. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Leader of Majority Aden Duale. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The ruling Jubilee Party has tabled in Parliament proposals to change the law that bars the government from advertising its achievements ahead of a presidential election.

Leader of Majority Aden Duale has republished and fast-tracked the Election Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which lapsed at the end of the 11th Parliament.

The Bill seeks to drop some provisions of the current Election Offences Act 2016, which bar a sitting president from advertising government achievements during the electioneering period — which is 30 days before election date.

The court struck down President Uhuru Kenyatta’s poll victory, saying the election board “failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution and election laws.’’

The law prohibits the incumbent president from advertising his development achievements as a way of campaigning.

It imposes a Sh2 million fine and a six year jail term for offenders. The proposed law seeks to amend the Act and allow the government to advertise its development projects as part of its campaign tools.

Lawyer Apollo Mboya moved to court before the August 8 polls seeking to restrain the government from advertising its achievements on its campaign portal.

Mr Mboya wanted the court to declare that the use of public resources to launch and maintain the portal contravenes the Elections Offences Act and is therefore irregular and illegal.

President Kenyatta launched the portal showcasing projects undertaken across the country in the last four years.

This was backed by media adverts and bill boards in the fight to secure votes.

Jubilee MPs on Thursday voted 144 to Opposition National Super Alliance’s 53 to shorten the maturity period of the Bill from 14 to one day.

The re-run vote is scheduled for Oct. 26 and opposition challenger Raila Odinga’s coalition has said it will not take part unless the proposed changes are dropped, calling them “sanitisation of the flaws of the Aug. 8 vote”.