Fresh faceoff as Raila, Ruto allies resume debate on coalitions Bill

MPs will consider 20 more clauses in sittings likely to extend into the night. [Courtesy]

Allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, and Deputy President William Ruto are headed for another round of heated arguments as MPs resume debate on the controversial Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

Special sittings are lined up for three days from tomorrow, a period within which proponents of the Bill are confident they will dispense with the matter.

The Bill is scheduled to go through the Committee of the Whole House and the Third Reading. Having covered seven clauses, the MPs will consider 20 more in sittings likely to extend into the night owing to the numerous amendments proposed.

A gazette notice released on Friday states that the respective sittings will “automatically extend” if the business for each of the three days is not concluded. The MPs to-do list also includes processing the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal (Amendment) Bill.

The remaining clauses of the Azimio Bill are as controversial as the ones passed last week in a chaotic sitting.

Two contentious issues stick out: The formation of a coalition political party and the creation of, in the words of the Bill’s opponents, “an imperial Registrar of Political Parties.”

Clause 8, for instance, proposes an amendment to Section 10 of the Political Parties Act to provide for the formation of a coalition party and the submission of a coalition political party amendment to the Registrar.

The clause prescribes a time frame within which such a coalition political party is to be formed.

“…the coalition political party shall submit the coalition agreement at least six months before a General Election,” Clause 8 of the Bill reads in part.

An amendment proposed by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) could see the six-month period reduced to three months.

The amendment, according to the Muturi Kigano-led JLAC seeks to “enable the coalition political party to participate in the elections including party nominations while allowing a timeline that is not too long, for parties to negotiate with like-minded parties.”

Allies of Ruto had wanted the initial timelines revised, but his recent calls that no timelines should exist means that they could oppose the clause.

DP William Ruto. [Courtesy]

“Why should someone be restricted to form such a coalition?” said the DP in an interview on Citizen TV.

MPs allied to his United Democratic Alliance have opposed the proposal to form coalition political parties, which, if successful, would block the formation of the Azimio la Umoja movement.

Raila and Uhuru intend to form a party similar to the National Rainbow Alliance.

The pro-handshake side secured victory after passing Clause 6, which outlines the process of forming a coalition political party.

Equally divisive are amendments that seek to accord the RPP powers to regulate party nominations, currently a mandate of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) under the IEBC Act, 2011.

Clause 20 of the Bill seeks to amend Section 34 to have this function transferred to the RPP.

“IEBC has shown, time and again that it is unable to conduct party nominations,” Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni said yesterday.

Neither side of the divide seems to favour a negotiated settlement. Kioni said that they had reached out to Tangatanga “at a personal level” to iron out their differences.

“They have brought nothing substantial to the table... They are too keen to follow their boss’s instructions. But we will finish the process on Wednesday,” he said.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro yesterday maintained that they were ready to reject the remaining clauses if no amendments will be made.

But Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni said they have numbers. “You pass legislation in Parliament based on the numbers. Once you find out that you don’t have numbers cool off and do something else. House business cannot be run by bringing fights,” he said during Morning Prime on KTN News.