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Proposed law gives lifeline to presidential race losers

NAIROBI
By Rawlings Otieno | November 26th 2019
Ndaragua MP Jeremiah Kioni bill proposes that political parties nominate the losers to the National Assembly and Senate. [Courtesy]

A Bill is proposing changes that will throw a lifeline to presidential candidates and their deputies who lose.

The Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2019 seeks to amend Article 90 of the Constitution by inserting a provision that will allow political parties to nominate the losers to the National Assembly and Senate.

If the Bill, which is sponsored by Ndaragua MP Jeremiah Kioni, sails through, it will save the rejected leaders from the ignominy of being consigned to the political dustbin after the election is concluded.

“A candidate nominated for election as president or deputy president shall be the first and second, respectively, in the party list and the appropriate number of qualified candidates and alternates between male and female in the priority in which they are listed,” reads part of the Bill.

Currently, presidential candidates and their deputies cannot be listed in their parties’ nomination lists that are presented to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) days before a General Election.

In the 2013 poll, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Amani coalition candidate Musalia Mudavadi, Kenya National Congress candidate Peter Kenneth, Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua, Alliance of Real Change candidate Abduba Dida, Safina Party candidate Paul Muite and Restore and Build Kenya Party leader James ole Kiyapi were cast out into the political cold.

“This Bill seeks to cure such eventualities and ensure the country remains united after elections,” the legislation proposes. The Bill further says that only leaders who belong to political parties will benefit from the legislation. If the Bill gets Parliament’s approval, one of the effects will be to give losing candidates a blank cheque to nominate themselves to the August House.

In a presidential system where the winner takes it all, the losing presidential candidate and his deputy can either choose to serve as the opposition from outside Parliament or disappear completely from the political scene.

During the height of clamour for IEBC reforms in 2016, two House teams had proposed that the electoral laws be amended to allow political parties nominate these losers to Parliament.

The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee and the Constitutional Oversight Implementation Committee had proposed changes that would allow political parties to present their nomination lists to the electoral commission after a General Election.

In 2013, soon after the election won by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the defunct Coalition for Reforms and Democracy had mooted the idea of working out ways for Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, their top leaders, to become MPs. They argued that the presence of the two leaders in the House would boost the morale of the alliance’s legislators.

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