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Uhuru, Raila allies pave way for 'super alliances' with Bill

POLITICS
By Roselyne Obala | December 2nd 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga receives Marsabit County Woman Representative Safia Sheikh Adan at Chungwa House in Nairobi Safia was elected on a Jubilee ticket. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga's allies have hatched a plot to re-introduce coalition political parties and pave the way for a grand coalition government akin to the 2022 elections.

A new Bill seeks to address the thorny issue of political parties fund, which led to dissolution of the National Super Alliance (NASA), bringing together Wiper Party, ODM, ANC, Ford Kenya and Chama Cha Mashinani.

Uhuru and Raila reportedly aim to tame mushrooming of small parties, with a majority in Central Kenya, by introducing tougher measures required to register one. The Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is sponsored by National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya.

Further, going by the huge number of independent candidates in the last polls after majority of them lost in party primaries, the new Bills seeks to make it difficult by empowering the Office of the Registrar of Parties.

Coming at a time there is an emergence of fringe regional parties, the legislative proposal in the National Assembly heralds another journey to a coalition party similar to the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), which retired President Mwai Kibaki used in 2002.

Already, ODM has reserved the name 'Azimio la Umoja" by Suna East MP Junet Mohammed and Jubilee has reserved "Alliance for Change."

The Bill will be introduced in the National Assembly today for First Reading. President Kenyatta and Raila want it fast tracked and will be top on the agenda when Parliament resumes on January 26th, 2022. In the proposals, re-introduction of coalition political parties will allow constituent parties retain their identity as opposed to the current situation.

Presently, coalitions like Coalition of Reforms and Democracy (CORD), NASA and Jubilee Alliance stood dissolved after constituent parties either dissolved or pulled out.

“The Bill seeks to replace political party with coalition political party,” reads the Bill which also is for direct nomination of candidates as opposed to current party primaries’ process (indirect party nomination).

It provides that in case of a coalition political party, the coalition agreement must be submitted at least six months to election and that a person may be expelled from a political party if he or she contravenes any provisions of the constitution of a political party, in this case prohibiting party hopping.

The new Bill also proposes to change the formula for distribution of the Political Parties Fund which shall now be distributed as follows: 70 per cent of the fund based on the number of votes secured by each political party, 15 per cent based on number of candidates of the political party from special interest groups elected, 10 per cent based on number of representatives elected and 5 per cent for administration expenses.

Already, ODM has approved direct nomination of members according to a taskforce chaired by National Elections Board (NEB) chairperson Catherine Mumma. The Bill proposes a raft of amendments to the Political Parties Act, such as requiring a party to use direct or indirect nomination.

In this case, indirect nomination is defined as the process by which a political party uses delegates selected from registered members, interviews and select its candidates. 

The Bill proposes an amendment on roles and functions of political parties including recruitment and enlisting of members, nomination of candidates for election, promotion of representation in Parliament and county assemblies of special interest groups (party list). This means parties are required to submit a register of its members, assets and liabilities, 120 days before an election.

“Clause 3 also provides for the reservation of a name, slogan and symbol of a political party for ninety days,” reads the Bill.

In clause 4, the Bill seeks to amend Section 5 of the Political Parties Act to provide for application for provisional registration of a political party which shall be done after the reservation of a name, symbol and slogan and the lapsing of the same, if not done within 90 days.

“The Bill proposes that an application or provisional registration shall be accompanied by a statement on the ideology of the proposed political party.”

The proposed legislation is reportedly backed by ODM legislators and their Kieleweke counterparts allied to the President.

Raila is expected to officially announce his presidential bid next month, as he markets his “Azimio la Umoja” agenda, which sits well with the proposal requiring political parties' statement is approved by Parliament.

President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party put on hold pa lanned National Delegates Conference (NDC) that was set to ratify its planned pre-election pact.

The Bill seeks to rein in on briefcase parties formed as multi-purpose outfits with no physical addresses as noted by the Registrar of Political parties Ann Nderitu.

“One condition for full registration of a political party shall include the address of the official website and provide for procedure to be followed for registration of a coalition political party,” reads the Bill.

The Bill provides for procedures of suspension and de-registration of a political party and the applicable process for suspension or de-registration and hearing of disputes relating to political party nominations in the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal.

But former Majority Leader Aden Duale faulted some provisions such as procedure to expel errant party members using party constitution and not the Kenyan constitution.

"I have serious reservations on certain clauses," said Duale. JP de whipped MPs allied to Ruto using its constitution. The Bill seeks to create an offence where a person is enlisted as a member of a political party without consent as was the case recently.

Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi said the fundamental change is the coalition political party formation. “This is more like NARC. The other aare ordinary changes," said Osotsi, an ally of Raila.

This means even Azimio la Umoja could end up being a political party bringing together a number of coalition political parties.

The Bill recognises political parties and not coalition parties presently.

Article 108 of the Constitution stipulates, “There shall be a leader of the majority party and a leader of the minority party. The leader of the majority party shall be the person who is the leader in the National Assembly of the largest party or coalition of parties.”

It adds, “The leader of the minority party shall be the person who is the leader in the National Assembly of the second largest party or coalition of parties.”

In the case of NARC in 2002, the ‘big three’, brought together party leaders Democratic Party of Kenya (DP) President Kibaki, Ford Kenya, the late Kijana Wamalwa and National Party of Kenya Governor Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and together they formed the National Alliance for Change (NAC).

They then joined KANU splinter group led by Raila that formed the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and together formed NARC.

Similarly, in 2007, President Kibaki was re-elected on the Party of National Unity (PNU) which brought together a number of parties.

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