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Court order clears Aukot bill debate at counties

 Ekuru Aukot
Former presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A judge on Tuesday reversed orders stopping county assemblies from debating and approving a bill by former presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot, dubbed the Punguza Mizigo Bill.

Justice John Mativo dismissed the petition by David Kariuki Ngari, who had obtained orders stopping the 47 counties from debating the bill, pending the determination of his petition.

The Judge stopped the order after Mr Ngari and his lawyers failed to turn up in court for hearing.

“In the absence of the petitioners or their advocates, I find no reason to keep the application pending or even no reason to warrant this court to allocate another hearing date for the application,” the judge said, adding that court is obligated by the Constitution to determine matters expeditiously.

Mr Ngari and International Economic Law Centre had named the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Speakers of National Assembly and Senate, Thirdway Alliance and 47 speakers of the county assemblies in the petition.

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The IEBC said it had verified that 1,222,541 registered voters 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.

The Punguza Mzigo initiative wants the number of MPs cut from 416 to 147. It also seeks to abolish the position of deputy governors and women representatives “to cut the cost of running Parliament to Sh5 billion annually, down from current Sh36.8 billion”.

The law demands that the majority of the 47 county assemblies approve the initiative before Kenyans vote for it via referendum.

In the petition, Mr Ngari reckons that there is no national referendum law yet the IEBC has forwarded the bill to the county assemblies for debate and approval, pending a national vote.

Mr Ngari further stated that the bill was procured through deceit and illegalities since the signatures were not genuine.

He argued that the uniformity of the signatures raises the question of authenticity and reliability of the signed forms.

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