Muturi faults creation of coalition party, calls for independent ORPP


Registrar of Political Party Anne Nderitu with Attorney General Justin Muturi during the launch of post Election and Evaluation report 2022 on August 2, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Attorney General Justin Muturi on Wednesday criticised the creation of coalition political party arguing that the idea was never envisioned in the Constitution.

Speaking during the launch of the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) post-election evaluation report in Nairobi, Muturi expressed reservations about the existence of a "coalition political party," terming it a "mongrel" and unnecessary.

He noted that Constitution only recognized a political party or a coalition of political parties, but not a hybrid entity like a "coalition political party."

Muturi said that passing laws so close to the General Election, particularly the creation of the coalition political party only serves to create confusion.

The AG further criticised the process that led to the creation of the coalition party, asserting that the Senate was directed not to introduce any amendments to the Bill from the National Assembly.

Despite this, he revealed that the Bill was ready for ascent even before the Senate concluded debate, raising concern over transparency and proper parliamentary procedures.

“As the Senate was discussing that Bill the night of January 26, last year, I was being invited the next day for the signing of the Bill even though the Bill hadn’t even passed,” said Muturi.

The AG highlighted issues surrounding the signing of coalition party agreements, stating that some political parties claimed they were not fully aware of the details.

He urged political leaders not to be desperate in their pursuit of coalitions and encouraged them to engage in inter-party dialogue through the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) to resolve disputes rather than resorting to legal battles within parties.

Six months before the 2022 General Election, former President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the controversial Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021, setting the stage for the formation of coalition political parties ahead of the polls.

Muturi called for financial support for the PPLC- an umbrella body of all political parties, emphasizing the crucial role of political parties in the country's governance. He suggested that providing running expenses for the PPLC would enhance its ability to facilitate dialogue and inclusivity in the political arena.

The AG proposed making the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) an independent office in the Constitution to empower it to carry out its functions autonomously and ensure fair and impartial handling of political party matters.

Speaking at the event attended by stakeholders in the electoral process, the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu recommended review of electoral laws at least two years before the General Election, to ensure proper planning and implementation of election activities.

Election Observation Group National Coordinator Mule Musau concurred with Nderitu saying that the time to make electoral reforms is now.

"The window to do electoral reforms is fast closing. we have until the end of next year to really have done something," said Musau

Key recommendations arising from the evaluation report include the development of coalition political party regulations, and empowering the ORPP to enforce coalition agreements effectively.

“Some of our challenges require legal reforms and need regulations of coalition enhanced so that it is clearer including that of coalition political parties,” said Nderitu.

Additionally, the review of electoral laws was proposed to delineate the role of the ORPP from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in the certification of party nominations and election rules, to avoid overlap of responsibilities. Other notable recommendations include extending the time for the certification of membership registers and setting clear timelines for party nominations to discourage party nomination losers from running as independent candidates.

“We still insist and say that we need to strengthen political parties and institutionalise them as vehicles of democracy to reduce the number of independent candidates because the more independent candidates, the less accountability there will be,” argued Nderitu.

Furthermore, the report highlighted the importance of adopting full automation for clearing independent candidates and utilizing technology to improve the training and sensitization of election agents.