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Groups differ over push to amend coalitions Bill

By Moses Nyamori | Jan 21st 2022 | 3 min read


Video grab of the proceedings during the Political Parties debate at the Parliament buildings, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The creation of a coalition party, sharing of funds, and criteria in conducting nominations are some of the contentious clauses in the controversial Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

A section of stakeholders yesterday suggested amendments to the clauses in the Bill, as the Senate began a two-day public hearing.

Katiba Institute, Council of Governors (CoG), County Assemblies Forum (CAF), Centre for Multi-Party Democracy, and Kenya Law Reforms are some of the groups pushing for amendments to the proposed law that was passed by the National Assembly.

The new push for amendments could frustrate the quest by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga to form a Narc-like coalition ahead of the August 9 polls.

But several other organisations and individuals who appeared before the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee want the Upper House to pass the Bill without introducing any amendments.

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu), National Youth Council, consortium of people living with disabilities among others backed the Bill that is set to influence the next polls.

In its submission, Cotu said since the formation of Narc, which won in 2002, the idea of having a coalition has characterised Kenyan politics for over two decades.

“Even though in 2002 it was just an idea that was being used to unite the opposition and win the 2002 elections, it has shown the prospects it has to forge national unity and pursue certain specific agendas within an agreed ideology,” said Cotu boss Francis Atwoli in the submission.

The trade union further backed the proposal to provide funding to all political parties that participate in a General Election.

The union said the formula proposed will help grow strong political parties which will equally strengthen the country’s democracy.

Transparency International Kenya (TIKenya), Elections Observation Group (Elog), Mzalendo Trust, Constitution, and Reform Education Consortium (Creco) have also backed the Bill.

In a joint submission, the group said provisions of the Bill are geared towards establishing the conduct of political coalitions by ensuring that members cannot join another outfit.

“The provisions will cure the problems of coalitions for convenience that fold immediately after elections. It also ensures that coalitions are governed by principles and rules,” said the group.

National Youth Council described the amendment as timely, stating that coalitions have greatly helped in containing election violence.

The council said that coalitions stem from the understanding that no single party can command majority support across the country.

But Katiba Institute rejected the proposed formation of a coalition party saying it would provide a system that favours some outfits while disenfranchising others.

The institute cited the provision that exempts a coalition party from the prerequisites for the formation of a political party.

“Implications of coalition political parties in purpose and effect undermine the spirit of the Constitution on what political parties are envisaged to be and participatory governance, particularly Article 4(2) that that recognises Kenya as a multi-party democratic State…,” stated the institute in its submission.

Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) also raised issues with provisions of the Bill arguing that it has confined the mandate of political parties to political mobilisation and representation. 

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