Updated 1 hrs 2 mins ago
By ALEX NDEGWA and PETER OPIYO
Embarrassed, startled by national outrage, and shocked by media exposure of their selfish interests, Members of Parliament reversed some of the stunning amendments they passed on Wednesday night.
The MPs had ganged up against the new electoral laws on political parties and academic levels for running, a process seen to be a subversion of the sovereign will of Kenyans as expressed in the 2010 referendum on Constitution.
Though they reinstated academic ceiling of university degrees for parliamentary and presidential candidates, forced by the realisation they risked lower salary grading by Salary Remuneration Commission, the MPs, however, retained the ticket they gave themselves to change parties as they wish.
This means the country could have lost the hope of enforcing discipline in political parties, which is a key pillar of democracy.
The confusing, but half-hearted change of tune by MPs cast a negative image of leaders torn between being faithful to the national interest, and working for their personal gains.
The MPs rescinded a provision that had exempted MPs and councillors from high academic credentials spelt out in law should they defend their positions in the March 2013 General Election.
The U-turn came hours after the acrimonious Wednesday night session during which MPs passed controversial amendments to the Political Parties Act and Elections Act, which have sparked public condemnation.
Amendments designed to facilitate party hopping as dozens of MPs face court cases for defections yet they have clung onto their parliamentary seats, were effected to the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill.
Through the Omnibus legislation, which enables a review of multiple laws at ago, lawmakers relaxed stringent electoral timelines whose effect was to permit last-minute defections for losers of party nominations.
But the MPs still made sure losers of presidential elections and their running mates would find their way back into the House after political parties were allowed to nominate them.
But the MPs rejected a proposal to allow presidential candidates to run for other elective seats apparently determined to ward off competition.
The new academic qualifications will lock out about 80 MPs, who will not be eligible to vie because they are not university graduates.
It will also apply in the event of any pending by-elections because the law comes into effect immediately.
Thursday, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, the Law Society of Kenya, and civil society organisations condemned the changes as an assault on the Constitution, which was ratified in August 2010.
They vowed to challenge the unconstitutional amendments in court.
“We see these amendments as an illegality and a move by Parliament to circumvent the provisions of the Constitution, which deal with leadership and integrity,” LSK Chairman, Eric Mutua, said in a statement.