Chaos erupt at political parties' workshop in Kisumu

Members of Political Parties asks Phillip Abonyo, the Chairman of Political Parties Liaison Committee (partly hidden) as a Security (in yellow stripped, also partly hidden) pleads with them. Abonyo Disrupted a Political Parties’ Workshop, He wanted the workshop stopped claiming that it was the duty of the committee to organise such workshops. [PHOTO: PHILLIP ORWA/STANDARD]

Fresh raw has emerged between Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) and the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) over the mandates of the two offices.

The PPLC National Chairman Philip Obonyo on Monday stormed a workshop organised by the ORPP in Kisumu and attempted to call it off.

The two-day workshop was halted for hours at a Kisumu hotel when Obonyo called for dissolution of the workshop which he termed illegal.

According to ORPP, the workshop was supposed to offer training to political parties leadership on the best way to carry out nominations, the kind of leadership political parties are expected to have, gender in political party leadership and the need for political parties, its leaders and adherents to coexist and integrate as Kenyans.

But Obonyo claimed that the meeting was a scheme by the ORPP to undermine PPLC office and 'con' the UN Women, which is one of the partners in the ongoing workshops which is a joint initiative of Kenya School of Law, UN Women, the IEBC and the ORPP.

According to Obonyo, it is the PPLC that was supposed to carry out the workshop as it is the bridge between the ORPP and the IEBC.

He termed the involvement of the ORPP office questionable as only a neutral body like the liaison committee which he chairs should run the workshop and not a state body like the ORPP.

"We have over 60 registered political parties in the country. Why should ORPP turn away several political parties' representatives only to have in the house a few that they can use to con the UN? My message to the UN is that they should not allow themselves to be dragged into this. It will not happen under my watch," said Obonyo.

Obonyo also took jibe at the Acting Registrar of political parties Lucy Ndungu whom he said should vacate the office and a substantive Registrar put in place after which he left. The workshop was later reconvened.

When contacted on phone, Ms Ndungu denied Obonyo's claims that her office had hijacked a role that was supposed to be done by the PPLC saying her office is independent and lawfully allowed to facilitate the training.

"We have a work plan as an office, and one of our responsibilities is to strengthen leadership of political parties, and capacity building at both the national and county levels," said Ndungu.
On the involvement of the UN, Ndungu said that it has been one of the partners in the ORPP drive fast track leadership of political parties which started last year.

Outraged members at the workshop raised their voices to address their issue with Mr. Obonyo.

"I was not informed of this meeting by the party leader but the registrar. Liaison shouldn't be allowed to speak since the liaison committee hasn't been active since 2013 and we had no prior information on its continued existence," said Steven Oyamo the wiper party representative.

Ali Abdallah KANU representative from Homa Bay County said the party was not well versed with the Liason committee since 2013.

"Chairman of national liaison chairman should have introduced himself earlier and not come to put a hold on the meeting," added Duncan Nyumbah Wiper coordinator, Kisumu County.

The conversation turned heated and members had to put a break to cool off with Obonyo not being offered space to communicate anymore and was being asked to leave the meeting instead of causing chaos.

Ndungu had to be contacted to clarify the issue, and she said that the meeting was not a political one but a workshop to lay down favourable ground for representatives to air out issues they had and that the liaison had no authority to stop the meeting. She added that the UN women organization were working hand in hand with the office of the registrar to ensure the success of the workshop.

The Kisumu meeting is one of the several other such meetings which are going on in Bomet, Kitale, Nyeri, Isiolo, Malindi and Bomet counties.