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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Degree requirement set to be expunged, as Senate approves Elections Act amendment

By Moses Ochengo

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The Senate has passed the proposal, to make changes to the Elections Act by scraping the degree prerequisite for aspiring MPs and MCAs.

The Bill was tabled before the Senate Legal Committee by Kipchumba Murkomen. The senators unanimously agreed to do away with the clause that requires those vying for political offices to hold a university degree qualification. They termed it discriminatory and prohibitive to most Kenyans who qualify for elected leadership, but lack a university qualification.  

The Okong’o Mogeni chaired committee, resolved to speed up the Bill’s  amendment before 2022 General Elections.

The Elgeyo Marakwet Senator proposed changes that will see paragraph B of  the Act’s section 22 expunged. Currently, the clause declares that one must possess a university degree or its equivalent before they can be cleared to run for an elective position.

Senator Murkomen opposed the Act in its current state, terming it unjust and prohibitive to political aspirants. He is proposing an eligibility of an ability to read and write in the  English or Swahili languages, or sign language in the case of people with impaired hearing.

“The provision as contained in the Elections Act is not only restrictive but discriminates against persons who may not have a degree as it implies that only persons who have a degree have the capacity to serve in public office,” stated Senator Murkomen in his submission to the Senate.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati, had earlier said that only candidates with university degree will be cleared to run in 2022 Polls, when the Elections Act is expected to take effect.

“We follow the law and the Elections Act clearly states that all candidates in the six elective positions must have a university degree to able to qualify to run for office,” Chebukati said on Monday, throwing a spanner in the works.

Murkomen has pledged to ensure that the law is changed to ensure that no Kenyan is unfairly locked out of vying for a public office, ahead of the 2022 elections. The approved changes to the Bill seek to remove university degree restriction on the MPs and MCAs in the country.

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