A fresh clash is looming between Jubilee Party (JP) and the Opposition after the ruling party struck a deal with the electoral agency to conduct its primaries.
JP Head of Secretariat Raphael Tuju yesterday met with top officials of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), where they deliberated on the process.
After the meeting that took over two hours at the JP headquarters, Mr Tuju and IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati announced that each side will form a three-member team to come up with modalities of conducting the nominations.
“As a party, we have agreed to come up with a team of three people and IEBC will do the same. The team will discuss how the JP nominations will be held with the help of the IEBC,” Tuju said.
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The Coalition of Reforms and Democracy (CORD) has been categorical that it is impossible for IEBC to hold internal party primaries, arguing that there is no legal framework that supports the move.
Two weeks ago, the Opposition coalition threatened to seek legal redress if the electoral body agrees to supervise the JP nominations, which are scheduled for April.
CORD, through its Head of Secretariat Norman Magaya, also pointed out that the law is not clear on who will fund the exercise.
But Chebukati, who was accompanied by his CEO Ezra Chiloba and other commissioners, allayed the Opposition’s fears, saying parties are at liberty to request the commission to assist them in their primaries.
The IEBC boss, however, said the polls body will have to write to the National Treasury to seek additional funds to finance the party nominations.
“We will dispatch a small team from the commission to assist JP in the party activity after we work on a few guidelines and get help from the Treasury. We have the requisite capacity,” Mr Chebukati said.
Speaking separately, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said JP would ask IEBC to factor in its budget funds for the party’s primaries.
Veronicah Maina, the JP Secretary General, said the outcome of the talks between the two teams will be made public before the end of this month. “We will give feedback on what Jubilee and IEBC will agree upon on February 28,” Ms Maina said.
In discouraging IEBC’s involvement in the internal affairs of political outfits, CORD said that should a dispute arise from any party primary conducted by the agency, an appeal will have to go straight to the elections disputes tribunal, bypassing the party appeals structure.
This, they say, is not only a violation of various electoral laws but also internal party constitutions, which provide for internal dispute resolution mechanisms.
CORD said the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal has no jurisdiction to handle nomination disputes supervised by the IEBC as the jurisdiction is vested in the commission pursuant to Article 88 of the Constitution and cannot be donated.
However, in a draft Elections (political party nomination) Regulations 2017, rule 23 (5) states; “A dispute arising from party primaries supervised by the commission shall be heard by the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal.” The regulations emanate from the recently amended election laws.