By Alex Ndegwa and Kepher Otieno
So far at least 80 MPs have ganged up, and it is believed even the silent majority are of the same view, to further dilute the Elections and Political Parties Act through fresh amendments that would guarantee losers a soft landing.
The ‘trap’ the MPs did not see as they is anchored on the fact that parties are required to submit party lists ahead of nominations – meaning after the party primaries defections would be futile because they would already be locked in.
Even in the run-up to the just concluded by-elections, some losers in The National Alliance party primaries in Kangema defected over claims of irregularities. But strict requirements in the new electoral laws to be implemented before the March 4, 2013, General Election will shut the door on the practice.
This is because political parties will be required to submit their party membership lists to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) 15 days before they nominate candidates for various elective seats.
The implication is that even if there were a falling out at the nominations, disgruntled aspirants would not seek nomination certificates from other parties because they won’t be recognised as party members.
In any case, the Elections Act requires that a person is a member of a party for at least three months preceding the date of submission of the party list to be eligible for nomination.
Party nomination losers will not have a chance to run as Independent candidates either. To qualify for nomination as an independent candidate, a person should not have been a member of any political party for at least three months preceding the date of the election.
Similarly, nomination to Parliament is out of question for such aspirants. Parties are required to submit to IEBC in advance a list of persons who stand to be nominated to Parliament should the party secure the slots.
MPs are now looking for options that could give them a political lifeline if beaten – by still getting their names on the ballot paper. In the past losers have crossed over to small or briefcase parties and secured direct nominations, but this door is already sealed.
The MPs want party nomination arbitration tribunals, which are entrenched in law, to be bound by the book to hear and conclude complaints within a specified timeline, preferably two weeks.