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Crisis as political parties in Kenya face Thursday’s deadline on nomination rules

Bomet Governor who is also Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) leader receives Narok West MP and Narok Gubernatorial aspirant Patrick ole Ntutu to CCM at Ntutu's home at Olopirik in Narok West. Ntutu defected from Jubilee Party (JP) citing discrimination. PHOTO: ROBERT KIPLAGAT.

Political parties have up to today midnight to present their nomination rules to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

This comes in the wake of a delay by the National Assembly in approving the commission’s regulations and guidelines that political parties must align theirs to.

IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba said Parliament has a duty to pass the regulations at most four months before the elections.

“We have provided guidelines given our calendar. Parliament has to pass them at most four months before the election,” said Chiloba.

The regulations are with the National Assembly’s Committee on Delegated Legislation. According to the IEBC timelines, the parties are supposed to align their nomination rules to the approved regulations by the National Assembly but time is running out.

The exercise on submission of nominations rules, which kicked off 10 days ago, will determine what procedures will be used by individual parties in primaries, in what is considered one of the most delicate acts in politics.

IEBC rules and regulations for participating in an election require that each party adheres strictly to the nomination timelines.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Chair John Mbadi (Suba) said IEBC is causing confusion as the August polls nears.

Mbadi argued that despite the assurance from IEBC officials, the trends in meeting their own timelines is worrying and is likely to create anarchy in the country.

The ODM official, however, said the Orange party has nomination rules in place and could present any time before the deadline, but pointed out that there could be dilemma in the event that the National Assembly rejects the regulations.

He said that political parties might have little time to realign their nomination rules to the IEBC regulations and the Political Parties Act.

According to the ODM amended elections and nomination rules, the party outlined that party primaries for a member of county assembly, governor, senator, MP and Woman Representative shall be way of universal suffrage of all registered party members.

This method, he said, will only be used in zones that the party faces stiff competition from other political parties.

Jubilee Head of Secretariat Raphael Tuju said that lack of regulations is a problem of the electoral commission and National Assembly and not for political parties.

Tuju said that Jubilee has drafted nomination rules which will be ratified by the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) and other relevant party organs and should there be any inconsistency, they will align to the IEBC regulations.

The Elections Laws Amendment provides that nomination of candidates by a political party to be done at least 60 days before a general election.

This means that political parties must nominate their candidates by June 8, 2017.

The new amendments to section 28 further require that a political party that nominates a person to submit its membership list to the Commission 20 days before the election. IEBC is supposed to publicise the list.

A political party is required to prepare and submit nomination rules to the commission three months before nomination of its candidates and the Commission is required to review them to ensure compliance.

Wiper party Executive Director Dr Jared Sisso said that the set deadlines will put parties in an awkward situation if the 10-day window period is adhered to.

Sisso argued that there will be confusion if the National Assembly does not approve the regulations in time.

Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC), however, believes that the electoral agency will beat the deadline because political parties have nomination rules already in place.

“The challenge is that due to the delay in processing the regulations, some parties may not comply. But we believe that the regulations will be in place before the deadline,” said Kibisu Kabatesi, Mudavadi’s Press Secretary.

ANC also argued that the draft regulations are designed to micromanage political parties, adding that political parties rejected most of the provisions because they feel there’s too much regulation on parties.

Section 27 requires the commission to issue regulations prescribing guidelines to be complied with in the process of party nominations.

A political party must also submit to the commission the names of persons intending to participate in party nominations for publication in the Kenya Gazette. This is the law that effectively outlawed party-hopping after nominations.

The law also states that an independent candidate qualifies for nomination if, among others, has not been a member of a political party at least three months before preceding the date of the nomination.

A person nominated for election cannot be nominated for party-list and the commission is required to certify that party lists comply with the law.

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