Kenya’s Chief Justice writes to President Kenyatta recommending dissolving of parliament

Uhuru Kenyatta
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Kenya’s Chief Justice, David Maraga, has written to the country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, recommending that he dissolves parliament for its failure to enact a law on gender balance. Maragga’s recommendations follow six petitions calling for the dissolution of parliament.

The enactment of the two-thirds gender rule was among laws the Kenyan parliament was supposed to undertake within five years after the passing of the 2010 constitution.

Ten years since the promulgation of the constitution it has not done this, and there have been four attempts, all of which have been defeated on the floor of the house. Last year, the bill failed to sail through due to the lack of a quorum. Now the ball is in President Kenyatta’s court, but it is complicated.

If he dissolves parliament now, he will have ended his second and final term in office prematurely. Kenya heads to the next General Elections in 2022.

There are no timelines on when the President should act on the recommendation, but the law contains an unusual enforcement mechanism which indicates that “If parliament fails to enact the legislation, the Chief Justice shall advise the President to dissolve parliament and the President shall dissolve parliament.”

Under Article 81 (b) of the Kenyan constitution, the two-thirds gender principle requires that “not more than two-thirds of members of elective bodies shall be of the same gender.”

At the moment, the Kenyan parliament falls short as only 23% of Members of Parliament are women. In a rejoinder, the speaker of parliament, Justim Muturi, said it was unrealistic to call for the dissolution of parliament.