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No degrees needed to vie for parliament seat, a certificate is enough

Aspirants for seats in Parliament and county assemblies in the next elections will not be required to have degrees after all.

Instead, they will be asked for at least a certificate earned after studying for at least three months in a post-secondary school institution.

This is because MPs did not change the law on academic qualifications, meaning only those who did not pursue any education beyond secondary school will be locked out of Parliament or the 47 county assemblies.

The aspirants will be asked for just one more certificate other than that for secondary school examinations as the minimum requirement will be a certificate, diploma or other post-secondary school qualification acquired after studying for at least three months, according to the Elections Act.

While the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) would want that changed, there is no indication from Parliament that it will be put into law.

EXEMPTION

When the Act was being prepared in 2011, affected MPs successfully lobbied then-President Mwai Kibaki and then-Prime Minister Raila Odinga to have those contesting in the 2013 elections exempted from that requirement.

Only the President, the Deputy President, governors and deputy governors are required to have degrees from universities recognised in Kenya, as a basic requirement.

In the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill prepared by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, it had been proposed that the academic qualifications be raised to a degree, with MPs again lobbying the leadership of the House to drop the rule.

Academic qualifications are among nine areas of the law on polls the IEBC wants Parliament to change before the next General Election.

They were left out of the Bills, which have since been enacted into law. The Bills were prepared by the now defunct Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reforms, backed by both sides of Parliament.

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill prepared by the team led by senators Kiraitu Murungi (Jubilee) and James Orengo (Cord) took precedence over the Bills prepared by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.