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Presidential poll losers to sit in ‘Bunge’ if Bill passes

By Moses Njagih | October 10th 2020

Presidential candidates who lose elections may have a reprieve of sitting in Parliament if a proposed law goes through in the National Assembly.

Unlike in the current situation where those who lose are condemned to political oblivion at least for the next five years, a Bill which seeks to amend Article 90 of the Constitution now grants them a lifeline and a soft landing of at least finding their way to the Senate, National Assembly or even the County Assembly.

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill by the National Assembly’s Constitution Implementation and Oversight Committee (CIOC) spearheaded by Committee Chairman and Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni seeks to allow political parties to list their presidential candidates and running mates on nomination party lists deposited with the electoral body before the General Election on priority basis.

The Bill, which has already gone through the First Reading at the National Assembly, seeks to alter the format of party lists compiled by political parties to have the presidential flag bearer and the running mate as the first and second candidates for nomination respectively.

The proposal will ensure that presidential candidates who fail at the ballot, but their parties qualify for nomination for the 12 slots slated for nomination in the National Assembly, the 20 slots reserved for women and persons with disabilities in the Senate or those in the respective county assemblies, would get the first priority for selection.

In the past two elections since the promulgation of the Constitution, presidential candidates who did not win the race have had to contend with nominating members of their parties to sit in Parliament and county assemblies while they remain in the cold, despite the number of votes they garner.

Nominate candidates

Despite garnering over 40 per cent of the presidential votes in both 2013 and 2017 polls, ODM Leader Raila Odinga and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, who contested on Cord and later NASA coalition were forced to sit out in the cold for five years, despite their parties qualifying to nominate candidates to both the National Assembly and the Senate, as the law did not allow them room for nomination.

The same has been the case with the losers in the gubernatorial races, who now could have a reprieve of sitting in county assemblies if the law is passed.

“The winner-takes-it-all set where the candidate who lost is not given any formal platform to express their views or contribute to the governance of the country, despite the number of votes they garner. The committee was of the opinion that such candidates and those who voted for them felt left out of the governance of the country resulting in some parts of the country feeling not part of the government and leading to even calls of cessation,” the committee states in the report approving the Bill for Second Reading.

The Bill will require to be passed by the two-thirds majority of MPs. It will, however, not require to go for a referendum since it does not alter the structure of governance or fall under the Articles that require the determination through a plebiscite.

Yesterday, Kioni exuded confidence that the proposed law will garner the requisite support.

“We will get the threshold and push through these amendments. There is no political party that would desire to have its presidential candidates in the cold after an election,” he said.  

Ironically, Kioni who is the face of the Bill, was the victim of the current law in 2013 when he contested as Amani National Congress’ Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi’s running-mate, the pair then contesting on the now-defunct UDF Party.

Though the party qualified for nomination slots, neither Musalia nor Kioni could qualify for nomination courtesy of the law.

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