A bill sponsored by Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen seeking to remove the constitutional requirement that election contestants have a degree has been approved by a Senate committee.

The Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee approved the bill marking a key step in the amendment of Section 22 of the Elections Act, 2011 which requires all contestants vying for parliamentary and County Assembly positions to have a Bachelors Degree.

Senator Murkomen's bill proposes that the ability to read and write in either of Kenya's official languages be the minimum education requirement for contestants.

Senator Kipchumba Murkomen/ Photo Courtesy

The bill has been fast-tracked through the requisite stages having been drafted on June 17th, 2021. A third reading is now imminent with the proposed changes to the bill, if any, set to be discussed by the House before a vote is held.

The implementation of Section 22 of the Elections Act, 2011 has been unsuccessful in the past with the National Assembly suspending its use in the 2017 elections despite the bill having been enacted just before the polls.

On 14th June 2021, Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) boss Wafula Chebukati announced that the commission would comply with Section 22 of the Elections Act, 2011 in the 2022 General elections. This would effectively lock out hundreds of contestants. 

A handful of Kenyans have already sought legal recourse with a petition having been filed at the National Assembly the very next day asking the House to repeal the act. 

MCAs have also filed a constitutional petition at the High Court suing the IEBC, the Attorney General and both Houses of Parliament as they aim to have the Act expunged.